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UNIV.OF 

TORONTO 
LIBRARY 



.A HISTORY OF THE MACHINE-WROUGHT 
HOSIERY AND LACE MANUFACTURES. 



A HISTORY 



MACHINE-WROUGHT HOSIERY 



LACE MANUFACTURES. 



BY 

WILLIAM FELKIN, F.L.S., F.S.S. 



7 




LONGMANS, GKEEN, AND CO. 
1867. 



THE SUBSCKIBEES, 



WHOSE KINDNESS HAS ENCOURAGED THE AUTHOR TO PRINT THIS VOLUMB. 



IT 18 RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED 



THEIR OBLIGED AND OBEDIENT SERVANT, 



WILLIAM FELKIN, 



LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. 



Copies 

His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, K.G., Holkar Hall . . 1 

The Eight Honourable Lord Belper, Kingston Hall . 6 

Sir E. I. Murchison, K.C.B., LL.D., F.E.S., London . . 1 

Sir Eowland Hill, G.C.B., London 

Sir Arnold Knight, Nottingham 

William Hodgson Barrow, Esq., M.P., Southwell . 

Thomas Bazley, Esq, M.P., Eijmham Hall 

John Cheetham, Esq, M.P., Stalcy Bridge 

Hon. G. Denman, M.P., Q.C., London 

Samuel Morley, Esq, M.P., London . . . 6 

Colonel Sykes, M P., F.E.S., London . . . 1 

W. F. Webb, Esq, High Sheriff, Neivstead Abbey 

Colonel Holden, Nuttall Temple 

Venerable Archdeacon Fearon, Loughborough 

Eev. Professor Bosworth, LL D., Oxford 

Eev. James Edwards, Collingham 

Eev. William Jones, Derby 

Chevalier Edward Tailbuis, Paris ... 2 

Miss Gotobed, Cambridge 

Mrs. Brewin, Tiverton . . <> 

Miss Heathcoat, Tiverton . . . (> 

Mrs. Hannay, Leamington 

Madame F. Washer, Brussels 

Samuel Adams, Esq, Shcnoood . . 1 

A. Alexander, Esq, Hamburgh 

Messrs. Andrew and Sons, Ashton-under-Lyne 

Henry Ashworth, Esq, The Oaks, Solton . . .1 

George Bacon, Esq, Uelmont, Scarborough 

William Baker, Esq, Derby . I 

Thomas Bayley, Esq, Lenton Abbey 

John Bayley, Esq, Lenton Priory . . .1 

Thomas Sebastian Bazley, Esq, Agden Hall . 2 

Amos Beardsley, Esq, Bay Villa, Grange . .2 

Alderman E. Besley, Wimbledon, London . . 1 

Messrs. John Biggs and Son, Leicester . . -1 

Eichard Birkin, Esq, Aspley Hall 

Thomas Bishop, Esq, Bramcote 

W. C. Boden, Esq, Ruddington Hall . 1 

Potto Brown, Esq, Houghton, Himtingdomhire 



Vlll 



LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. 



L. M. Bucknall, Esq, London 
John Burton, Esq, Lenton 
William Carpmael, Esq, London 
Messrs. Cartwright and Warner, Loughborough 
J. J. Chaffer, Esq, New York 
Edward Charles, Esq, Bulwell 
Messrs. Cliff, Brothers, and Son, St. Quentin 
George Cockle, Esq, M.D., Cambridge 
John Cooke, Esq, Bradford, Yorkshire 
Thomas Coote, Esq, Bournemouth 
Messrs. Cope, Ward, and Cope, New Basford 
Messrs. Copestake, Moore, Cramp ton, and Co, London 
Charles Cox, Esq, Basford 
Thomas Crofts, Esq, New York 
William Danson, Esq, Liverpool 
Robert Dawbarn, Esq, fVisbeach 
Messrs. Dent, Allcroft, and Co, London 
J. B. Dickinson, Esq, Wolverhampton 
Richard Eaton, Esq, Basford 
John Eaton, Esq, Tiverton 
J. T. Emmett, Esq, London 
H. M. Felkin, Chemnitz 
Robert Felkin, Esq, London 
George Foster, Esq, Bournemouth 
G. E. Foster, Esq, Cambridge 
Edmond Foster, Esq, Town Clerk, Cambridge 
J. P. Gardner, Esq, Cambridge 
Herr A. Geier, Chemnitz 
G. B. Gifford, Esq, Chard 
Gieve, Esq, London 
J. Sherwin Gregory, Esq, Ilarfaxton Hall 
Monsieur F. Greau, Troyes 
Monsieur Louis Le Grand, Ghent . 

Samuel Groucock, Esq, New York 
John Hadden, Esq, Bramcote Lodge 
Edward Hallam, Esq, London 
John Harley, Esq, Beeston 
John Harrison, Esq, Claughton, Birkenhcad 
J. C. Harrison, Esq, Dudley Home, Wlialley 
John Hartley, Esq, New York 
John H. Haviland, Esq, Neio York 
Thomas Hawksley, Esq, C.E., London 
Abraham Hazelton, Esq, New York 
Richard Heathfield, Esq, London 
William Heney, Esq, New York 
William Heymann, Esq, Leipsic 
Lewis Heymann, Esq, Bridgeford House 
Messrs. Higgins, Eagle, and Hutchinson, London 
R. Higgins, Esq, London 
B. H. Hine, Esq, Napperley Plains 
Messrs. Hitchcock, Williams, and Co, London 
J. W. Hodges, Esq, Mayor, 
Adnm ITolden, Esq, Liverpool 



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LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. 



IX 



Herr C. F. Hoffer, Chemnitz 

Herr Geheimrath Dr. Hiilse, Dresden 

Imperial Polytechnic School, Dresden 

W. D. Jourdain, Esq, Kegworth 

Herr Charles Kessler, Chemnitz 

Konigliche Hohere Gewerb Schule, Chemnitz 

John Laing, Esq, Hawick 

Edward Laycock, Esq, Mayor, Leeds 

J. A. Legard, Esq, Cowes, Isle of Wight 

Herr H. R. Loesner, Chemnitz 

Daniel Mackay, Esq, New York 

Monsieur Maillot, Lisle 

Hugh Mason, Esq, Groly Lodge, Ashton-under-Lyne 

Henry Martin, Esq, Wolverhampton 

A. G-. Marten, Esq, London 
Mechanics' Institution, Leeds 
John Miller, Esq, Mayor, Barnstaple 
Samuel Morley, Esq, Lenton Grove 
Messrs. Morrison, Dillon, and Co, London 
Thomas North, Esq, Sasford Hall 

B. S. Oliver, Esq, Basford 
Messrs. Oliver'and Sons, Bollington 
James Orrock, Esq, Leicester 
William Page, Esq, Boilers Mill 
Charles Paget, Esq, Grange, Ruddington 

T. Dennis Paul, Esq, Leicester . . 

Samuel Paulson, Esq, New York 

Robert Pegg, Esq, Derby 

Edmund Percy, Esq, Beeston 

Alexander Ramsay, Esq, Neio York 

Frederick Sanders, Esq, London 

R. S. Slater, Esq, London 

Samuel Smiles, Esq, Blackheath, London 

Smith, Esq, Derby 

W. T. Smith, Esq, New York 

George Sneath, Esq, Medhurst, Upper Canada, 

Society of Arts, London 

Charles Spencer, Esq, Philadelphia 

William G. Spencer, Esq, Philadelphia 

Herr Julius Steinhardt, Hamburgh 

W. Taylor, Esq, London 

C. P. Tebbutt, Esq, Bluntisham, Huntingdonshire . 
J. L. Thackeray, Esq, Arno Vale 

G. V. Vernon, Esq, Manchester 

Benjamin Walker, Esq, Lenton 

Messrs. Walker and Co, Bradford 

J. H. Walter, Esq, London 

W. W. Ward, Esq, New York 

Charles Warner, Esq, New York 

Henry Warner, Esq., Louyhlorough 

John Watson, Esq, Beeston 

Arthur Wells, Esq, Cavendish Hill 

J. Scott Wells, Esq, Arnot House, Arnold 



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X LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. . , 

Copies 

Eobert Wherry, Esq, JTisbeach . . .1 

Joseph Whitworth, Esq, Darley Dale . . .1 

John H. Williams, Esq, New York ... 1 

Thomas Wilson, Esq, M.A., Crimbles HOMM, L<T<h . . 1 

William Wilson, Esq, Sherwood Hall . . 4 

William Windley, Esq, Mapperley Plains . . .6 

John T. Woodhouse, Esq, Overwal ... 2 

T. B. WooUey, Esq, London . . . 1 

Gr. B. Woolley, Esq, London ... 1 

J. Young, Esq, London . . .1 



NOTTINGHAM. 

Thomas Ball, Esq, Mayor .... 2 

William Enfield, Esq, Town Clerk . 2 

D. W. Heath, Esq, Coroner ... 2 

Louis Baillon, Esq, Vice-Consul, France . . .1 

F. Liepmann, Esq, Vice-Consul, Saxony . . 1 

George Alcock, Esq . . . .1 

Eichard Allen, Esq .... 1 

J. E. Allen, Esq . 1 

Thomas Ashwell, Esq .... 1 

Messrs. Attenborough, Mellor, and Blackburn . . 1 

J. S. Baldwin, Esq .... 1 

Eupert Baldwin, Esq . . . .1 

John Barber, Esq .... 1 

Eichard Birkin, junior, Esq . .2 

Messrs. Bookers ... 1 

John Bradley, Esq . "2 

William Bradshaw, Esq 

F. Braithwaite, Esq . .1 

Joseph Braithwaite, Esq . .1 

Bromley House Library . . 1 

F. B. Burton, Esq 

Charles Butlin, Esq . . . .1 

W. B. Carter, Esq 

Chamber of Commerce 

William Chapman, Esq 

Thomas Close, Esq 

William Dearden, Esq 

Messrs. Dobsons 

Owen Donald, Esq 

Moritz Dann, Esq 

W., C., F., and J. Felkin 

James Fisher, Esq, >S7.;^y/ S7/v,V . 

Messrs. Fleirshoim, ]-Vihn;nm, and (,'<> 

Samuel Fox, Esq 

F. B. Gill, Esq 

T. F. Gimson, K*q 

A. (Joater, Esq 

J. D. Gorse, ] 

Eu'hurd Hardy, 



LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. XI 

Copies 

Thomas Herbert, Esq 

George Herbert, Esq 

Thomas Hill, Esq . . * 

William Hill, Esq 

Messrs. E. and W. Hopcroft 

William Hunt, Esq 

Lieutenant John Hutchinson 

John Hutchinson, junior, Esq 

L. Jacobsen, Esq 

Moritz Jacoby, Esq 

William Jarman, Esq 

John Johnson, Esq 

James Lake, Esq 

J. W. Leavers, Esq 

J. Holman Lee, Esq . . 2 

J. W. Lewis, Esq ' ... 

W. Lewis, Esq 

Messrs. Liepmann, Kohn, and Co ... 

WiUiam M'Craith, Esq 

John Manning, Esq .... 

Samuel Maples, Esq . . . .1 

William Martin, Esq .... 2 

John Maxton, Esq . . 

Mechanics Institution 

Messrs. Moses Mellor and Sons . . .3 

Midland Hosiery Company 

Stephen Moore, Esq . . . .1 

Thomas Morley, Esq .... 1 

A. J. Mundella, Esq . . . .3 

Samuel Newham, Esq .... 1 

James Oldknow, Esq . . . .1 

J. W. Oldknow, Esq ... 

Thomas Overbury, Esq . . . .1 

James Page, Esq .... 1 

Samuel Parrott, Esq . . . .2 

William Pattison, Esq .... 1 

People's Hall Library . . . .1 

John Place, Esq .... 1 

W. H. Eansom, Esq, M.D. 

W. A. Eichards, Esq . .1 

William Eichards, Esq . . . .1 

J. G. Eobinson, Esq .... 1 

G. B. Eothera, Esq . . . .1 

S. H. Sands, Esq 

James Severn, Esq . . . .1 

Messrs. Shaw and Son .... 1 

George Shepperley, Esq . . . .1 

A. Simkins, Esq .... 1 

George Simons, Esq 

Edward Smith, Esq ... 1 

Henry Smith, Esq . . . .1 

Joseph Smith, Esq ... 1 

W. E. Smith, Esq .... 1 



Xll LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. 

Copies 

Charles Sneath, Esq .... 1 

E. H. Speed, Esq .... 1 

G. E. Stanger, Esq . .1 

Edward Steegmann, Esq . . . .1 

William Stiff, Esq, M.D. .... 1 

E. J. Sykes, Esq . . 1 

Eichard Taylor, Esq .... 1 

J. N. Thompson, Esq . . . .1 

John Thompson, Esq .... 1 

William Vickers, Esq . . . .2 

William Vickers, junior, Esq ... 1 

John Wheatley, Esq . . . .1 

Joseph White, Esq .... 1 

William Whitehead, Esq . . . .1 

William Williamson, Esq .... 1 

Stephen WiUs, Esq .... 1 

William Wright, Esq 2 

Joseph Wright, Esq . . . .1 

G-. P. Yates, Esq .... 1 



INTRODUCTION, 



SOME of the most interesting and useful works to 
be found in modern literature have been written on 
subjects which, while tending to gratify a universal 
and desirable curiosity as to the natural and scientific 
world around, have shewn how, by the activity and 
ingenuity of individuals, nature and science have been 
made contributive to highly important results, and have 
furnished a wholesome stimulus to endeavours thus to 
benefit mankind. With such a view the present work 
has been undertaken. It possesses this specialty : that, 
with the exception of two principal names, Lee and 
Strutt, every one of the many English inventors de- 
scribed, was a working handicraftsman. And while the 
two first local historians were professional men, the 
three last (including the present author) were also 
originally in that class ; a fact not without significance. 
We will go on to describe our literary predecessors. 

Robert Thoroton, M.D., published, in 1677, his 
History of Nottinghamshire, in a large folio volume, 
closely printed in small type. This writer was born 
in 1622, and was a descendant of an old family settled 
at Thoroton in that county. Having taken his degree 
at one of the Universities, he practised through life 
at Car-Colston, Nottinghamshire, where he was buried 
in 1678. He was a great royalist. His father-iri-law, 
Serjeant Bown, had collected at much expense materials 
for this history, which the Doctor verified and com- 
pleted, forming a work of extraordinary topographical 
and genealogical research and authority. It contains 



XIV INTRODUCTION. 

a very important paragraph upon the origin of the 
stocking-frame, which is cited, and its tenor and value 
discussed in our memoir of Rev. William Lee. 

The next local historian was Charles Deering, M.D., 
who was probably a German by birth. His education 
and learning indicated, a respectable parentage. He 
was master of many languages and was otherwise highly 
accomplished.' Having graduated at Leyden, he be- 
came secretary to the British embassy at St. Petersburg. 
The circumstances which brought him to Nottingham 
are not known. He practised there for some years 
with success. He married; but his wife dying after 
a short union, her loss injured his temper, and his 
manners became morose, causing the alienation of most 
of his friends. His practice gradually declining, he 
fell into deep melancholy and distress, and thus died 
in 1749. Not leaving sufficient effects, the corporation 
of the town contributed to the expenses of his burial, 
as a posthumous mark of respect for his undoubted 
talents. It was thus reserved for an alien to write 
the first historical account of Nottingham, his adopted 
abode. He was assisted in the antiquarian part of 
the work by John Plumtre, Esq., who also superin- 
tended its publication in 1751, after the author's 
decease. Deering appears to have employed the enforced 
leisure of his later years, in making researches .neces- 
sary for the compilation of his work. His notices of 
the ancient trades of the town are valuable ; some of 
them referring to the hosiery manufacture will be found 
in the following pages. 

Mr. John Throsby, the son of a mayor of Leicester, 
of which town and county he wrote historic accounts, 
republishcd Thoroton's work with extracts from Deering 
and continuations of his own. His only reference to the 
stocking trade is in a paragraph concerning the petition 
of the frame-work knitters to Cromwell for a charter. 



INTRODUCTION. XV 

No further attempt of importance to write upon the 
staple trades of the three midland counties was made, 
until Mr. John Blackner composed his History of Notting- 
ham, which was published in a quarto volume in 1816. 
Henson describes him " as skilled in the manufacture 
of both hosiery and lace; but from a lengthened in- 
disposition he was rendered unequal to the task" (of 
compiling the history) " and the expectation of ap- 
proaching dissolution, which soon took place, compelled 
him to expedite its termination." Blackner has given 
a large space to the origin of the stocking-frame, and 
its course of improvement, until the invention of warp 
and bobbin net machinery. With these he does not 
grapple " because, from the number of different con- 
structions, every minor improvement cannot be men- 
tioned. The principal parts of the machines have been 
traced to their origin, and to those persons whose 
names have been mentioned, I conceive the great merit 
of invention to be due." In doing this, his political 
and personal prejudices sometimes led him astray; 
causing Henson to speak of him "as a singular man, 
well known for his credulity and for his veracity." 
This volume has not afforded us much assistance. 

Mr. Gravener Henson began a History of the Frame- 
Work-Knitting and Lace Trades; and, in a moderate 
sized octavo volume published in 1831, brought his 
account down to the year 1780, but there ceased from 
the want of public support. This arose from his dif- 
fusive manner, and some peculiar opinions set forth 
with needless prominence. It contains much informa- 
tion on the rise of the manufacture of tissued fabrics, 
and the early course of those on which he specially 
treats. He had a practical knowledge of most kinds 
of looms, and describes them correctly, though in a 
technical manner. Being familiar with local inventions, 
he had materials to work upon, and it is to be regretted 



XVI INTRODUCTION. 

he did not finish his history. His printer, seeing that 
instead of one volume, several on his plan would be 
necessary, advised him to condense. He had not the 
nerve to do this, and gave up the work. Henson wrote 
with surprising facility and grammatical correctness. 
His petitions to parliament, memorials to ministers, and 
letters to public men were striking, but injudicious: 
often containing libellous invectives. Once, being 
directed to draw up a memorial to the Treasury on 
the difficult subject of the l Export of Machinery,' he 
brought the next day twelve foolscap pages closely 
written, without interlineation or blot; which, after 
being compressed and expurgated much to his chagrin, 
was a cogent and effective document. 

In 1828, Gr. Henson published a list of one hundred 
inventions and alterations in the stocking and lace ma- 
chines. Though not absolutely correct, it is convenient 
for reference, especially as to the contending claimants 
for improvements. He left behind him 'Notes of in- 
ventions and improvements of lace machines down to 
the year 1850.' These having been placed in our 
hands temporarily, have rendered valuable aid. 

He wrote many articles upon local trade, the claims 
of workmen, combination laws, and kindred topics, 
giving parliamentary evidence on some of them. These 
papers shewed much vigour, but were deficient in 
exactitude. His roving spirit led to the knowledge 
of the proceedings of smugglers all round the coasts 
of England, Scotland, and the west coast and northern 
frontier of France. The names of these he offered, 
in 1835, to the English Customs. In the hosiery trade 
he had a list, in 1838, of one hundred and twenty-seven 
men who dealt in materials obtained by fraud, and 
another of all those who paid wages by truck. Being 
an adviser of workmen in trouble, and in combinations 
and strikes, he was more than once imprisoned during a 



INTRODUCTION. XV11 

suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act ; and often talked 
with pride of his examinations by secretaries of state, 
and familiarity with Government officials. In person he 
was thick set, with short neck, keen small eyes, and a 
head very broad at the base, rising up angularly to 
an unusual height. 

Mr. Henson was a native of Nottingham. He had 
little early education, but afterwards read much. He 
possessed an extraordinary memory, and delighted in 
the histories of manufactures and commerce. He knew 
most of the laws of his own country and France re- 
gulating these matters. His first employment was in 
the stocking-frame, then in point net, and afterwards 
in bobbin net, and he knew many of those who had im- 
proved those classes of machines. A recent writer places 
him amongst the ( worthies of Nottingham.' Others 
differed from this ; for which his dogmatism and warm 
temperament may account. We do not doubt his desire 
and efforts were to forward the interests of the trades 
he had so much at heart. He died at the age of 67, 
in 1852, at Nottingham, in humble circumstances. 

The writer of this volume entered the stocking- 
making business in 1808, and the lace trade in 1819. 
In each he has been called upon to take an active 
part; and, since 1828, a public position in many of 
the transactions of both, until 1864. The knowledge 
of persons and events thus necessarily acquired, he has 
been often urged to embody in such a work as the 
present. Having been freed from other pressing duties, 
he has devoted the whole of the seventy-second year 
of his life to this effort. It has been a laborious one, 
from the necessity of giving an account of many in- 
ventions, patents for which, in numbers and prolixity 
of specification probably unexampled in any other manu- 
facture, have had to be investigated. The short no- 
tices of these in the Patent list, issued from the Office 



XV111 INTRODUCTION. 

in London since this work was written, fills a volume 
of 1070 pages. The present author has accounts of 
388 English patents in hosiery, and 3-'il in lace 719 
altogether, many of them of immense length. The 
study of these mechanical descriptions is not favourable 
to elegance of composition, which may account for some 
defects in this volume. Such an intricate mass of de- 
tails must also, after employing the utmost care, produce 
errors in narration. But in regard to the most important 
point of all, the author is conscious of having pursued 
one course that of cautious inquiry into facts and 
bringing to them an unprejudiced mind, in order to form 
and express a sound judgment in regard to them ; so that 
if not always unquestionably right, he is never inten- 
tionally wrong. The plan of the work is open to some 
objections, but no arrangement seemed free from them. 
A separate view is given, as far as possible, of what 
each inventor accomplished ; that being the easiest for 
the memory to retain, by approaching nearest to classi- 
fication of machines. To have given a regular chrono- 
logical account of invention would have been impossible. 
The history of the trades has been confined to pro- 
minent events in consecutive epochs. 

The author desires the acceptance of his best thanks 
for the assistance rendered by friends interested in the 
completeness of the volume, both at home, in France, 
Saxony, and the United States. Their contributions 
are invaluable. 

W. F. 

Nottingham, 

March 15th, 1867. 



CONTENTS. 



INTRODUCTION. 

Previous Authors. Thoroton, Deering, Blackner, Henson. Motives to the 
present work. Aid in writing it. 

CHAPTER I. 

THE OLD HAND WEAVING LOOM. 

Origin unknown, probably antediluvian, possibly divinely suggested. Used 
soon after the Flood. Throughout Asia. In Egypt. Its spread through Greece. 
Over the Continent. And British Isles .... 19 

CHAPTER II. 

HAND-KNITTING. 

Origin cannot be positively traced. A simple operation. - Special web pro- 
duced. Enquiry as to Trojan loom-weaving or hand-knitting.- Christ's coat 
without seam. Hand-knitting first spoken of in the 15th century in Scotland and 
Spain. Few kinds of machines used in England, 1550 . . 10 22 

CHAPTER III. 

INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM BY REV. WM. LEE. 

An unlikely event. Of which are various accounts. More than one Wm. 
Lee. Family of Wm. Lee of Calverton. No registry of births. Was of St. John's 
College, Cambridge, 1582-6. Incumbent at Calverton, 1589. Thoroton, Deering, 
Rees, Blackner, and Henson ascribe the invention to him. Elmore's picture and 
account. Story in Nut Brown Maids. Baldwin's reference. Chambers states 
invention to be a French one. Beckmann awards it to Lee . . 23 41 

CHAPTER IV. 

THE STOCKING-LOOM, AND REV. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 

Great obstacles to the invention. And construction. Skill at Nottingham in 
iron and wood work. Succeeded in 1589. Course of invention. Mode of 
using stocking-frame. Taken to London. Worked in presence of Queen 
Elizabeth. Patent for it refused. Lord Hunsdon's alliance with Lee. Who 
makes silk hose. James I. does not patronise him. Takes nine frames to 
France. Where he died in 1610. No personal reminiscences of Lee remain. His 
original likeness lost. ...... 4268 



XX CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER V. 

STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER 1610 TO 1750. 

Frames brought back to London, 1610. Sold there by James Lee who with 
Aston constructs improved ones in Nottinghamshire. An old one taken by Mead 
to Venice. Soon returned. Jones took some to Amsterdam. Died in 1683 and 
they were brought back. London frame-work-knitters unite in a company. 
Petition Cromwell for a charter. Granted, 1657. Machines going abroad ordered 
to be seized, 1659. New charter from Charles II. 1663. The trade adverse to 
the company. Frames sent to Ireland and Continent. Company's expenditures, 
1700. Great increase in frames and apprentices in Midland Counties. 1720, 
company becomes a joint stock manufacture. Discontinued, 1730. In disputes 
with country masters it is defeated. London stocking making declines, 1730 to 
1750. Company made new bye-laws, 1745. Arguments for and against such 
corporations. Rivalry with France in frame-work-knitting . . 59 83 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. MR, JEDEDIAH STRUTT. 

Impulse given to inventions and manufactures. Tuck-presser added to 
stocking-frame, 1840. Mr. Strutt born, 1729. His education, early training on 
a farm. Marriage. Settlement as hosier at Derby. Effected making ribbed 
hose on stocking frame. Patented invention, 1758-9. The added apparatus and 
its great results described. His junction with Arkwright. Spinning mills 
built at Belper. Calico woven at Derby. Strutt died in that town, 1797. 
His character. Messrs. William, Joseph, George, and John Strutt. Lord, 
Belper .... . 84101 



CHAPTER VII. 

MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE 1760 TO 1800. 

Morris's tickler machine, 1764. Else's pin machine, 1770. Morris's point net, 
1781. Frost's tickler, Ross's velvet pile, Crane's brocade machines, 1769. 
Thread carriers invented. Horton's knotted frame, 1771. Brockley's twills and 
plats, Ash's elastics, Hague's plated elastic and mesh machines, 1777. 1784, 
Webbe's improved Derby rib, Taken to France 1790. Holland's fleecy hosiery. 
Powerful political association of stocking makers, 1776. Great distress, rioting, 
and frame breaking, 1778. Hosiers' union. Enumeration of frames. Frame 
rents become established. Leicester and Hinckley hosiery manufacture. "Use of 
hosiery cotton yarn ...... 102120 



CHAPTER VIII. 

HAND MADE LACE. 

Definition of lace. The Mace' leaf. Ancient nets and laces. Egyptian. Jew- 
ish. Greek. Roman. Christian. Mediaeval. Modern. Pillow lace invented in 
Saxony, 1561, by Barbara Uttmann. Mode of making it. Spread over Flanders, 
France, Spain. Brought to England. Old pillow lace much prized . 121132 



CONTENTS. XXi 

CHAPTER IX. 

LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 

Looped lace nets made, 1760 to 1770. By Hammond. Crane's incipient warp 
frame. Two plain net made. Embroidery by hook and needle on net intro- 
duced. Square net, 1777. Flowered and spider net. Morris's point net, 1778. 
Its improvements, deteriorations, and decline. Bos well's fishing net machine 

133142 

CHAPTER X. 

THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 

Several competitors for the invention. First warp frame described. 
Modifications, 1792-9. Varied powers of production. Dawson's inventions. 
Competition with bobbin net, 1809. Other modifications. Ball's power machine. 
William Herbert. Whiteley's taffeta. Ball's double looping circular machines. 
Gamble's improved frame. Closer competition with bobbin net. Paris net 
ceased .;..... 143155 

CHAPTER XI. 

BROWN'S FISHING NET MACHINE. 

Patented, 1802. Description of invention and production. He claimed idea 
of construction of the bobbin net bobbin and carriage. Question discussed. 
Morley and Tire's statement that Brown's was a bobbin net machine . 156 161 

CHAPTER XII. 

HORIZONTAL LACE PLATTING MACHINES. 

John Moore's machines, 1808-1810, described. Others mentioned. Mode of 
operation stated ...... 162 167 

CHAPTER XIII. 

LACE MANUFACTURE 1800 TO 1810. 

Lace cotton yarn improved by Cartledge. Houldsworth's list for fine yarns. 
Amount produced. Payment by rack for lace making. Attempts to invent 
a bobbin net machine, by Whittaker. C. Hood. Testimony of J. Wallis. 
Lindley . . . . . . 168179 

CHAPTER XIV. 

THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

His birth. Parents Education. Apprenticeship. Skill. Self- instruction. 
Self-reliance. Wootton, a schoolmaster. Heathcoat, a framesmith at Notting- 
ham. Elliott's account of him. Early and happy marriage. Removal to 
Hathern. Warp lace patent, 1804. Saw how pillow lace was made. Resident at 
Loughborough, 1805. Bailey's account of Heathcoat's proceedings. Issuing in 
patents, 1808-9. Description of first machine. Method of making net on it. 
This machine not now in existence. Heathcoat's own account of both inven- 
tions. Justifies his claim as real inventor. Dr. lire's statement. Sewell's 
opinion of R. Brown's fishing net frame. A second account by Heathcoat. 
Description of ' Old Loughborough' machine. Its mode of producing twisted and 



XX11 CONTENTS. 

traversed net. His success at the age of 24. Bodily and mental cost. High 
wages paid. Excellence of article. Heavy pecuniary outlay. Partnership with 
Lacy. Profitable results of patent. Title to invention impugned. Grounds 
alleged. Injunction obtained, 1813. Defendants become licensees. John Brown's 
traverse warp patent, 1811. Trial of its validity abandoned. Singular reason for 
it. Identity of the two machines in principle asserted by Bailey, Wallis, 
Brunei. Heathcoat's new combination of parts. Himself and others go on to 
improve it . . . . , . . 180214 

CHAPTER XV. 

THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 

John Brown's action against Moore for infringement in 1816 to establish 
this patent. Statements by Whittaker, Holmes, Trivett, Moore, Hooley, Bailey, 
Blackner. Clever travesty of Heathcoat's. Description of it. Both Brown and 
Moore (except in traversing the warp) infringed on Heathcoat, whose patent the 
verdict for Moore legalized. Expence of this litigation. Traverse warp machines 
improved. For a time very profitable .... 215 226 

CHAPTER XVI. 



Stocking-frame breaking, 1710, in London. By act of 1727 if frames using 
woollen yarn, punishable with death. In 1770, loom breakers hanged in Spital- 
fields. Frames and a house destroyed at Nottingham. In 1773, frame breaking at 
Leicester. In 1811 stocking-makers much distressed. Swept the streets for 
food Several gangs of frame breakers organised. Frames broken almost daily. 
One man shot. Magistrates' appeals unheeded. An offered advance in wages 
secured a body of machinery. Daring escape of a Ludciite. Nottingham seemed 
in state of siege. 1812, Trentham a hosier, shot. Punishment of death extended 
to all frame breakers. Lord Byron's speech. General insecurity. Carton's house 
attacked. One man on each side shot. In 1816 Heathcoat's frames broken. 
A workman shot. Six of the Luddites executed. Luddism ceased. This 
nefarious work done for hire. Heathcoat's awarded damages 10,000. Never 
received. He recommenced at Tiverton .... 227 242 

CHAPTER XVII. 

MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 1816 to 1860. 

Patented method in 1816 of putting Lee's frame to power. Improved bobbin 
net frame putting it to power. Number of infringers. Effect on prices Sued 
Grace, 1819. Obtained verdict. Directly establishing his patent. Infringers 
alarmed. Chief Justice's address. General compromise. Combination deed of 
machine owners. Wages underpatent. Heathcoat's factory in France. Changes 
in his partners. In 1823 took out platting net patent One for salt making. 
1824 patents for lace machine carriages. Improving laee machines. For a 
Panoptican lace factory. For spinning apparatus. And for reeling and twisting 
silk. In 1825, patent for throwing silk. For reeling raw silk. Silk 
filature established at Tiverton. Method patented for improving circular 
machines. Two patents for ornamenting lace. In 1831, patent for a combined 
machine. 1832, for ornamenting net 1833, for making breadths of net. 1835, for 
weaving tapes on bobbin net machines. 1832 he patented a steam plough. 
1837 and 1843, patents for ornamenting lace. Speech in 1843 on opening his 



CONTENTS. XX111 

Jritish school. Effect of lace factory at Tiverton. Heathcoat's desire to promote 
general interests of lace trade. Address on inaugurating his portrait. Presenta- 
tion by workpeople Election to serve in parliament. Political career. Death 
in 1861 and honourable burial. His character . . . 243 270 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE SINGLE TIER LEVERS* BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

Invention by Levers, 1813. Secretly. Not patented. At first horizontal. 
Thin bobbins and carriages. Soon constructed perpendicular. Many such made 
by him. His careless habits. Immense advantage reaped by lace trade. None 
by himself. In 1821 went to France. Died there. His nephew. The machine 
described. Its product when improved. Successive modifications. Separate 
manufacture of bobbins and carriages. Great excitement from high wages and 
profits. Numbers employed. Bobbin springs. Skelton. B. Thompson's genius, 
knowledge, and ill success in life. Manner of using bobbins and carriages 

271291 

CHAPTER XIX. 

THE PUSHER BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

Constructed in 1812 Its arrangement and use. Successive improvements. 
John Lindley. His composite machine. Its ill success. Art of meshing. 
Lindley introduced steam power to lace frames . . . 292 299 

CHAPTER XX. 

THE GASSING, BLEACHING, AND FINISHING OF LACE. MR. SAMUEL HALL. 

Robert Hall. Samuel Hall's pursuit of scientific improvements. Two 
patents for gassing thread and lace described. Their use. Large profits accrued. 
Starch patent made over to L. Hall. Samuel Hall's characteristics. Fourteen 
other patents enumerated. Seyrigs drying machine. Lace dressing described 

300309 

CHAPTER XXI. 

IMPROVEMENTS IN DOUBLE TIER LACE MACHINERY. 

James Sneath, in traverse warp. William Sneath's patent spot 1831. Sold 
to Fisher. -Morley's straight bolt. And improved circular. His talents and 
success. Sewell's initiation in lace frames. Scientific acquirements. Adaptation 
of circulars. Upside down machine. Rolling lockers. And fancy frames. His 
chemical operations . . . . .. .310 319 

CHAPTER XXII. 

MR. JAMES FISHER AND MR. WILLIAM CROFTS. 

Mr. Fisher's important position in the lace business. John Hughes. Fisher's 
opinion of Heathcoat. In 1823 became a large machine owner. And patentee. 
First of Sneath's spot. Then of three with Levers'. - Afterwards of eighteen with 
Crofts. Including the 'monster' patent. These described. - Counter association 
of machine owners, 1835. In 1838 fund raised to upset the spotting patent not 
tried. In 1847 Fisher brought an action against Oliver for using double warps. 
Compromised. No more patent questions raised by him. His business energy 
and success. - His death. -Further patents by Crofts. - His talent for invention 

320-330 



XXIV CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

THE BOBBIN NET LACE TBADE. 

Epidemic mania, 1823-26. Effect upon Nottingham. Number and prices of 
machines, 1823-26. Effect of excess in machinery. Depreciated prices. A trade 
mart proposed, 1828. Then a deed restricting working hours, signed in 1829. 
Clauses recited. Abandoned. More machinery constructed. Statistics, 1831, 
1833, and 1836. This trade greatly depressed, 1834. Low wages, partial stints, 
proposed remedial measures, improvements in machines. Miller's pearl edges. 
Alcock's ' monster' patent. Quillings made improperly. Proceedings to stop 
export of machinery. Unsuccessful. Action against Henson nonsuited. In 1842 
export was legalised ...... 331 355 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

THE JACQTJARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

Success of the local School of Art. Alterations necessary to produce fancies. 
Draper's first patent using organ barrel. Second, a Jacquard apparatus. His 
partial success. Applied Jacquard to warp machines. Other ingenious modifi- 
cations by him. Draper was a pioneer in improving fancy machines, it issued in 
his deep poverty. Carpmael's opinion in favour of his second patent. Newton's 
against it. Biddle and Birkin threw Deverill's improvement open to the trade. 
Birkin's skill and knowledge of lace machinery. Establishment at New Basford, 
and success in business. His various improvements in Levers' frames. Bagley's 
skill in imitating pillow lace. His account of his progress. Putting in extra 

guide bars, Double warps Assisted Fisher. Left him. Went to France. 

On return made black silk shawls, imitations of Valenciennes edgings. Honiton 
sprigs. Bagley's peculiar characteristics . . . 356 375 



CHAPTER XXV. 

THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 1837 TO 1866. 

Depression of trade, 1837. In 1844-45, fancy trade over supplied. Great 
loss on machines and goods. Commercial panic in 1848. English taste unjustly 
disparaged. Demand for three twist net, revived from 1851. This article well 
made by Sewell, now by Gregory. S. and J. Burton Livesey's looping ma- 
chinery for curtains, improved by others, eventually by Cope. Cope's other 
modifications described. Livesey's other patents, and characteristics. Replace- 
ment of country embroidery by other employments in Nottingham. John Fisher's 
patents. "Waterhouse's costly invention. Several other plans. Vickers' jun. 
composite machine. Barton's beautiful imitation of real lace. His tragical end. 
T. Hills' Shetland wool lace. Topham's patent drag thread machines. Its 
validity established, 1866. Ensor's plans and patents. Jacoby's patents. 
Hartshorn's patents. Ball and others warp and chenille patents. Mallet's 
Valenciennes lace described. Fishing net patents enumerated. Statistics of lace 
trade, 1843, 1845, 1851, 1856, 1860, 1865. Long hours still worked at machines. 
Children employed in Nottingham without inspection. Limerick lace embroidery 
described 376-401 



CONTENTS. XXV 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

THE MACHINE-WROUGHT LACE MANUFACTURE OF FRANCE. 

Extensive use of hand- wrought lace. In France, each kind of machine for 
making lace sought after. Hayne refused to set up point net frames in 1802. 
The pin and warp frames introduced and largely employed. Eighteen patents 
taken out before 1826 for plain net, and two for fancies. In 1815 Cutts got in 
first bobbin net frame. Made first article from it, 1816. Same year Clark got 
first machine into Calais. Mechaut built first French bobbin net machine. 
Heathcoat set up his machines at Paris in 1818. By 1825 the manufacture 
established in France. At Lyons by Dognin, in 1823. Made silk zephyr net 
and porcupine scarfs. Bobbins and carriages made in France. Statistics of 
French lace trade. Dognin's patents. Champollion's spots. Isaac at Calais 
applied Jacquard. French claim priority. Not assented to. Free trade in plain 
nets declined. Statistics. Appeal on behalf of Black. Ferguson's improve- 
ments. ClifFs emigration to Calais in 1821. Removal to St. Quentin, 1825. 
Bleacher and finisher, 1837. Factory and machinery (circular) burnt, 1847. 
Replaced by Levers. Firm stands in first rank as makers and finishers. Statis- 
tics, 1850. Aubry's report. Again, 1855. Comparison of French and English 
lace goods. French report, 1860. Embroidery. Fine yarn spinning. Other 
continental lace machinery. Oldknow's perforated steel bars. Planche or 
Laforte's composite bobbin net machine. Masson's for making lace shawls and 
other large articles. Keenan's double fabric machine. Rebiere's, Levers' and 
shuttle lace loom ...... 402433 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

THE MACHINE HOSIERY MANUFACTURE. 1810 TO 1835. 

Previous fluctuations of goods. Consequent distress. Payne fined and ruined 
for non-registered apprentices. Piece goods trade gave some relief. Statistics, 
1812. Lowered wages. Workmen's union. Effect of using yarns fraudulently 
obtained. Piece goods going out of use. 1819, a memorable year for suffering 
and commotion. At Nottingham and Leicester assistance given. Hall replies to 
Cobbett. Union aided by public subscription. Parliament refuse to pass work- 
men's bill. Turn out prevented by increased wages. London become emporium 
for English hosiery. More articles going out of demand. General strike, 1821. 
Another, 1824. Other articles not used. Further fall in wages. 1833-37, lowest 
rate ever known. Basford petition, 1833. Trades union declaration. Statistics 
of general hosiery trade. - Biggs' statement of Leicester department . 434-450 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

THE MACHINE HOSIERY MANUFACTURE. - 1836-46. 

A patriarchal frame-work-knitter. Panic, 1837. Reports by Gulson and 
Fletcher, 1837-40. Trade protection association. Accurate statistics requisite. 
Frame-rents. -Trial, 1844, legally established them. Truck gradually declines. 
Other charges. General cessation from labour. Sufferings from food and priva- 
tion. Female frame-work-knitters. Relief by subscription. Causes of distress. 

Garden allotments. Separate cottages. Hosiery trade at Tewksbury and Lon- 
don. In Ireland. Actual census taken, 1844. Statistics. Localities of frames. 

Petition of workmen for enquiry. Muggeridge's report. Factory system. 
Leicester fancy hosiery. Meeting of hands at Nottingham. At Leicester. 



XXVI CONTENTS. 

Each petitioned Parliament. - Sir H. Halford's ticket bill, 1846. -1847, one to 
amend it. Clauses given. Objections urged. Replies. General view of the 
question ...... 451 478 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

THE HOSIERY MANUFACTURE. - 1847 TO 1867. 

Conciliation courts. Constitution of Conseils des Prud'hommes. -Appoint- 
ment of English commission of enquiry. Report of Nottingham board of 
arbitration in hosiery. -Its rules. Annual report, 1866-67 -Resolutions of three 
counties union of frame-work-knitters, 1866 Modifications of machinery. 
Barton's wide rotary. Paget's successive patents. Improved thread carrier. 
Further improvements in frames. -Five of Nickell's and one of Thornton, Bros. 
Memoir of Sir M. I. Brunei. -His patented round frame. G. Armitage -Claus- 
sen's patents. Round frames for Derby ribs.-Townsend's four patents. -His 
'tumbler' needle -Hine and Co's. five patents described. - Mo wbray's. E. S. 
Brookes' Cotton's three patents described. Hancock's. Gist's, and as im- 
proved by Thompson. Needles improved by Greenough. Quinquarlet. J. S. 
Wells. -Improved tools to make machines Attenborough and Co's. four ma- 
chines de^-cribed. Four of M. Mi'llor and Sons. -Increased demand for ribbed 
hosier}'. Decay of silk hosiery manufacture. Statistics, 1865. Imperfect Cus- 
tom-house returns. . 479 518 

CHAPTER XXX. 

SAXON HOSIERY MANUFACTURE. 

Introduction into Saxony. Rapid growth since 1800. Education of stocking- 
makers. Report of chamber of commerce, 1863. Number, kind, and locality of 
frames. Yarns consumed. State of the trade. Another report, 1864. Narrow, 
rotary, round, and ' ketten' frames. Steam power. Prices. Wages. Remarks. 

Eisenstiick's machine. Woller's. Iron frames. Cost of living. Arrangements 
in manufacturing. Apolda woollen goods. Statistics. Trade guilds 519 541 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

MACHINE- WROUGHT HOSIERY, 

United States. Statistics. Patents. Mac Nary, Whitworth, and Wilson's ma- 
chines. France. ^i. Greave's report, 1846, of Troyes machinery. M 1 . Dela- 
rothiere. M. M Peron. Statistics. M. Tailbuis" report, 1862. General statis- 
tics. -Italy. -Spain ...... 542-550 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

CONCLUSION. 

Increased use of yarn made from animal wool for hosiery. The like in 
hosiery cotton yarns. English exports and imports of cotton hosiery. Exports of 
lace. Course and state of lace trade, 1866. Mode of distributing lace to retailers. 

Copestake and Co. Taylor's lace impressions. - Nottingham warehouses. Atten- 
tion to morals of workpeople. T. Adams and Co. Copestake and Co. Present 
condition of frame-work-knitters. Education. Caution to hands. Limited lia- 
bility State of English hosiery trade. Desire expressed for amicable relations 
with foreign competitors . . . . . .551 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



Plate. Face Page 

Frame-work knitters' arms . . . . .23 

I. Front and end view of stocking-frame ... 45 

II. Various parts of stocking-frame . . .49 
Portrait of Jedediah Strutt, Esq. .... 84 

X. Nos. 1 and 2 Frost's plain and figured stocking lace (1769 first 

ever made) . . . . .107 

XI. Nos. 3 and 4 spider net, 1770 Nos. 5 and 6 cotton point lace, 1790 133 

III. Whittaker's and Hood's machinery Hood's lace . . 176 
Portrait of John Heathcoat, Esq. . . . 180 

IV. Meshes of bobbin net . . . . 188 
V. Heathcoat's first patented machine, 1808 . . .190 

VI. Heathcoat's second patented machine, 1S09 Front view . . 197 

VII. Side view of the same ..... 201 
VIII. Traverse warp machine ..... 209 

IX. Section of circular machine, and smaller parts . . 211 

XII. White silk point wire ground lace, 1810 Embroidered . . 227 

XIII. White silk point lace No. 9, needle run No. 10, tamboured . 243 

XIV. No. 11, warp net, 1800 Nos. 12 and 13, Herbert's warp lace, 1860, 

Id. a yard No. 14, Heathcoat's first patent, 1808, when worn 

7 years No. 15, his second patent, 1809, sworn to in 1813 . 28G 

XV. No. 16, Sneath's first spot No. 17, Lever lace, 1866, at \d. a 

yard Nos. 18, 19, 20, 21, Bagley's Valenciennes insertions 
and laces . . . . . .310 

XVI. Nos. 22 and 23, Oldknow and Maillot Levers Guipure lace, and 

insertion Nos. 24 and 25, Birkin's Lever edging and lace . 369 

XVII. Nos. 26, and 27, Livesey's raised ornamental lace Ball and Co., 

velvet lace-No. 28. . . . .381 

XVIII. No. 29, Barton's Valenciennes insertion, 30 and 31, anonymous do. 
Nos. 32 and 35, Mennon's lace, 33 real gauge, 3l-gauge at 
workbar ...... 430 

XIX. A three head circular ten feeder striping stocking-frame . 511 

XX. A rotary rib top hosiery frame, making ten at once . .513 



A HISTORY OF THE MACHINE-WROUGHT 
HOSIERY AND LACE MANUFACTURES. 



CHAPTER I. 



THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. 

AUTHENTIC and instructive History is a carefully 
selected and well ordered narration of events ; a con- 
secutive statement of facts and opinions, whether reli- 
gious, political, social, or scientific, which have transpired 
in past ages, bearing upon the condition and welfare 
of mankind. 

Whatever department of historical enquiry is pursued, 
the mind intuitively seeks to investigate and ascertain 
its source; the fountain from whence to follow the 
course of that stream of events, which it is desired to 
trace out. 

The origin of empires and states is for the most part 
hidden in the uncertain mists of antiquity, and is 
usually mythological, rather than ascertained and real. 
Very learned men differ greatly as to the point of time 
when, in regard to any one of the great national 
divisions of the human race, fabulous legends cease, 
and truly reliable records begin. 

An inquiry into the origin and progress of the useful 
arts, that "large field of knowledge open to the advantage 
of men," is prompted by the like desire to begin at the 
beginning; and is found to be surrounded with equal 
obscurity and difficulty. So much has this been felt 
that an often controverted question has arisen, as to 
whether or not the knowledge of the arts practised in 
antidiluvian ages was the result of innate genius, 



2 THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. 

called into exercise by the immediate daily necessities 
of man's life; or whether derived by him from the 
direct instruction of his Maker. 

Archbishop Whately asserts, " that wholly untaught 
savages could never invent anything, or even subsist at 
all. The existence of various instruments amongst 
partially civilized people, indicates the communication 
of instruction at some period from a being superior to 
man himself." It is argued that man could neither 
make, nor civilize himself; and that it is most consistent 
with reason, and with what may be gathered from 
Scripture on this subject, that man was advanced by 
his Creator, soon after He had formed him, to a state 
above that of a mere savage, if he were not so endowed 
originally. 

The practice of steeping stalks of plants and pound- 
ing the inner fibrous bark of trees, to obtain materials 
for clothing ; securing hair and wool from skins to spin 
into yarn ; making lines and hooks as well as nets for 
fishing and hunting ; basket wattling and weaving from 
flags and rushes, with other arts ; aje spread so almost 
universally, and so nearly of one type, as to refer them 
to one source only. It is urged also, that if the 
primitive arts were self-discovered and self-taught, it 
is altogether unreasonable to suppose they would have 
remained, in the main, without improvement for three 
thousand years or more. Moreover, with the gifts of 
intelligence, mental power, and moral perception, ex- 
pressing themselves in speech and action, the Maker 
of man would otherwise endow him suitably to the 
necessities of his being. He must eat, to live ; he would 
be, indeed was, directed what to eat, and what to avoid. 
He received a command to dress and keep a garden. 
The meaning of the words and method of obeying them, 
would be shewn him. The qualities of animals and 
vegetables must have been in some measure opened 
up to him, or he could not have given the one distin- 
guishing names, or successfully cultivated the other ; and 
without primary instruction, Adam could not have 
known how to subordinate anything to his use. 

But to what extent soever knowledge of material 
objects, with their powers and uses, was imparted to 



THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. 6 

man, it would be only so far as to stimulate liim to 
improve them, and lead to the acquisition of more. God 
does for man, ordinarily, only that which he cannot 
do for himself. So, on the very first occasion for the 
exercise of ingenuity, our first parents " sewed (joined) 
fig-leaves together." This effort was imperfect, but in 
the right direction ; and, so God made (Kitto says, 
'taught them to make') " coats of skins, and clothed 
them." Cain built a city, which was not the act of a 
semi-savage ; for, however rude its construction, skill was 
required to contrive, and knowledge to execute such a 
work. Of his descendant Lantech's sons, one was the 
first iioraade, " a dweller in tents," possibly only 
covered with skins ; but a pastoral cattle breeding life is 
one of observation, skill, and foresight. Another was 
the first instructor of artificers in copper and iron 
work. This implied the finding and smelting the 
metals, a thing hardly to be discovered ; together with 
the possession of tools, and ability to use them. The 
third son was the first to handle the harp and pipe in 
music requiring an attuned ear, and skill in workman- 
ship. If a family thus advanced in art, lived two 
hundred and fifty or three hundred years after 
the expulsion of Adam from Eden, it is not unlikely 
that other primitive arts, not named in scripture, but 
necessary to man's comfort, were practised within the 
next fourteen hundred years previous to the flood. For 
though mankind degenerated into a state of terrible 
depravity, that was by no means inconsistent with a 
considerable amount of civilisation and general know- 
ledge. To draw out the locks of hair and wool, and to 
spin them by distaff and spindle, has been a practice for 
certainly four thousand years ; and to weave them into 
cloth by that oldest textile instrument, the weaver's loom, 
is an art equally traceable up to nearly the time of Noah. 
So that both may very probably have been employed in 
producing clothing for the antidiluvian world. HE 
might see fit to suggest the loom, who directed the 
construction of that wonderful prototype of naval archi- 
tecture, the ark; and some centuries later, gave to 
Bezaleel the special wisdom, necessary for the curious 
and splendid work of the Tabernacle. 



4 THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. 

But if not thus suggested and it was due to the genius 
of man the life long experience and observation of almost 
a thousand years might suffice for the discovery of the 
loom ; and what was thus known, must, through Noah and 
his sons, have survived the flood. The eldest of these 
sons saw the rise of three mighty empires, Babylonia, 
Assyria and Egypt; in each of these, some of the arts, 
at least, were known, and carried to a high degree of 
excellence and importance, at the time their names first 
occur in history. The architecture of those earliest ages 
survives to attest this fact, by works mighty enough to 
puzzle modern science as to how they were performed, 
and to fill the minds of beholders with astonishment at the 
marvellous results. And long before the time of Abraham, 
the art of weaving more useful, though less noticed 
historically had so spread, that Babylon was famed for 
its textile manufactures ; and so continued till its down- 
fall. For it had a great customer in Tyre, as mentioned 
in those remarkable chapters 26th and 27th of Ezekiel, 
describing the commerce of the latter city, and stating 
that Babylon traded there ; exporting to Tyre " its blue 
cloths, embroidered work, and chests of rich apparel." 
The like is there said of Syria and Mesopotamia also. 
Egypt was the early home of the linen cloth manufacture 
(probably, with India, that of cotton also) as is proved 
by sepulchral paintings, of the gathering and preparing 
flax and weaving it into cloth. The inhabitants of 
Egypt produced, and clothed their princes and nobles 
and priests, with fine twined linen, exporting it also to 
Tyre and Greece. Pharaoh clothed Joseph in vestures of 
fine twined linen suitable for a prince. The cerements 
of their embalmed dead were of cloth generally of coarse 
texture. The Israelites became very perfect in the art 
of weaving, while serving the Egyptians; and in the 
wilderness under the instruction of Bezaleel. " For all 
the women who were wise hearted spun, and Bezaleel 
worked the work of a weaver and in embroidery." 

The sacred books of Hindostan shew that weaving of 
cotton goods was practised there, from nearly the time 
of the flood ; this is further evidenced by the castes 
connected with it. From the same epoch, the most 
ancient Chinese historical works date the use of the loom; 



THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. 5 

almost identical in its shape and functions with that 
now employed by them ; upon it, they wove silk, as 
well as cotton and wool. All the preparatory arts of 
growing silk, cotton, and wool, spinning and reeling, 
winding and warping, are fully described ; as also the 
subsequent ones of dyeing, fulling, embroidering, and 
fashioning into clothes. 

The city of Damascus, perhaps the oldest existing 
city in the world, was almost from its foundation 
known, and some centuries afterwards became famous, 
for its textile manufactures. This it has continued to 
be until the present time. How long it was before 
silk was employed as a material, and the loom was 
adapted at Damascus to weave patterns of various 
design, and in the gorgeous colours so dear to Eastern 
taste, is not on record. If the weaving-loom were 
originally invented, to devise the shuttle and its bobbin, 
to extend some hundreds of threads as a warp along 
the ground, dividing them into two alternating sets; 
hanging the gearing aloft on the branch of a tree, 
the weaver seated on the ground, with his feet in a 
hole moving the treddles as was often the primitive 
manner of Eastern weaving would require great com- 
pass of thought. How much more, to introduce the 
Arabesque ornaments, and even to inweave in graceful 
wreaths of Arabic characters, the multitude of extracts 
from the Koran, which appear in the sacred silken Banner 
of Mahomet and of War, which is of immense size, 
the production of a Damascene loom, and the original 
of which was woven centuries ago. In all ages the 
most costly and precious stuffs from the loom have been 
reserved for royal and sacerdotal purposes. The cloths 
manufactured in Asia Minor, and dipped in Tyriaii 
purple dye, were always worn by rulers from Cyrus 
and Alexander, to the Ptolemies and Caesars, as the sign 
of imperial authority. It is probable, that impelled 
by the love of pure and bright hues, the Asiatics 
understood and practised the arts of the fuller and dyer 
better in the first fifteen hundred years after Noah, than 
at any time since, until within the last century. 

The town of Gaza was known from ancient days 
as an important cloth weaving place. It was not far 



6 THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. 

from Tyre, and on the high road from Syria and the 
East into Egypt, so the productions of its looms were 
celebrated far and wide. At a time when silk materials 
for clothing were valued in Syria weight for weight 
in gold, the manufacturers of Gaza adopted the plan 
of taking in pieces the heavy silk fabrics obtained from 
the East, and dividing the thick threads of which they 
were composed by untwisting them with great care, 
they re-wove these finer strands into a semi-transparent 
tissue, which was, from its lessened cost, much used 
in Greece, and eventually in Italy. This was about 
the time when a Roman Emperor refused his wife a 
sumptuous silk dress because of its cost. Pliny and 
Seneca held up to ridicule the use by their country 
women of "gowns of glass" made from these slight 
materials, " clothed in which they could not justly say 
they were not naked." The fabric in question was 
called after the place of its origin, and is known in 
French as La Gaze, in English, Gauze. 

It would seem from this account, that the supply 
of silk was as yet solely obtained from the farther 
East, Hindostan, and China. 

The practice of weaving being the universal employ- 
ment of women from the remotest ages, was so familiar 
and generally understood, as to furnish writers, sacred 
and profane, with many touching illustrations and 
similes. Children are familiar with Bible examples : 
" I have cut off like a weaver my life." " My days are 
swifter than a weaver's shuttle." " They weave a spider's 
web." Similar allusions occur in classic literature. 

These manufactures of cloth by the use of the loom, 
were thus practised and spread abroad in ancient times 
throughout all Asia. It is worthy of notice that the 
first countries where w r e read of them, Babylonia and 
Egypt, were those where sciences, especially that of 
Astronomy, had their first development. There seems 
at first to be a wide distance between the contemplative 
sciences and useful arts, but it is more in appearance 
than reality. There is in truth a close underlying 
connection between them. The arts are ever assisted 
and ennobled by science: which itself loses its specu- 
lative tendencies when in combination with art. They, 



THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. 7 

by their united operations, stimulate invention and 
shorten or lighten labour; and by the use of agents 
arid materials in new forms and quantities, they procure 
those novel results which enrich mankind, by adding 
to the common stock of comforts and conveniences of life. 

Let this early art of weaving cloth therefore have 
attributed to it the merit and importance which are its 
due. u The first want of man after food is clothing: 
this art supplies it; its utility, therefore, is inferior 
only to that of agriculture." 

From Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor, the weaving 
art passed long before the age of Homer into Greece, 
and thence, over all the shores of the Mediterranean. 
It penetrated Italy and Spain. Probably by way of 
Constantinople it spread over Illyria, Dalmatia, and 
the German tribes, and descending the Rhine, reached 
the Low Countries and France. By the Flemings, 
weaving was brought over and firmly settled in Eng- 
land ; and thus reached Scotland and Ireland. 

This course occupied in the whole about two thou- 
sand years, and is one of deep interest to the student 
of history. It was marked throughout, like the general 
operations of manufactures and commerce, by the con- 
tending forces of religious persecution or toleration ; 
political despotism or freedom ; hospitality to aliens, 
or a narrow and exclusive policy towards strangers. 
But its utility was a vital irrepressible power, and over- 
came every obstacle. At length, the rude and hitherto 
almost unchanged old loom has been made the subject 
of surprising improvement, and has been for plain 
goods more than doubled, and for fancy articles more 
than quadrupled, in its power and speed of production. 
In a word, it has within the last century become the 
Power loom in England, and Jacquard loom in France. 

Soon after the introduction from the Low Countries, 
and settlement of the weaving art by the Flemings at 
Norwich, Sudbury, &c., the great importance attached 
to the business was shewn by the legislative enact- 
ments of the Normans and Plantagenets, intended to 
regulate and (as was the opinion of the time) to foster 
the rising woollen manufactures. These were then the 
objects of special attention, because of the capacity 



O THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. 

of England to grow the wool that might be required 
to supply them with materials. The speaker of the 
House of Lords was seated on a woolsack, to remind 
him and the Peers of the value of the woollen trade. 
The tax on imported wool was remitted under Edward I. 
An act of the third Edward made its export a felony. 
None but English-made woollen cloths might be worn. 
They were prohibited import, under pain of forfeiture 
of the goods, and imprisonment of the importer. 
Foreign weavers were invited to come over here ; which 
they did, in such large numbers, as to thoroughly 
establish the business, in which, by their skill, industry, 
and capital, they became the principal employers and 
merchants. Within the next two hundred years, Eng- 
land had attained the position of a large cloth exporting 
nation. In 1463 75, articles were prohibited import ; 
and in 1483, 1 Richard III., many more were added 
to the list. As to a large part of this list, the prohibi- 
tion was not repealed until 1819. 

In the Woollen Cloth Act, 5 Edward VI., twenty- 
three districts in England give names to woollen cloths, 
and five to cotton. Six special classes of cloth had 
been defined by 37 Edward III., chapters viii. to xiv. ; 
and ordered to be alone used. Clothiers were com- 
manded to make no other. These regulations were 
re-enacted three times, up to the reign of Henry VIII. ; 
and again, by other subsequent acts : but after existing 

240 years, they were abolished by James I., in the 

. j. c i,- 

nrst year or his reign. 

Cotton wool was used in England for twisting into 
candle wicks before 1298, and was largely imported 
from the Levant by 1430. In 1640 it had become 
extensively spun, and made into cloth in Manchester, 
from whence the three noble minded brothers Chethams 
supplied the London market with fustians, &c. 

The rate of remuneration for labour was also made 
the subject of legislation throughout this period. A 
plague in 1346, and consequent mortality, had so 
lessened the population as to have doubled, and in 
some trades, trebled wages. In 1350, it was enacted 
that the former ordinary scale should be paid and 
received ; an oath being taken by both masters and 



THE OLD HAND WEAVING-LOOM. U 

men to pay and receive no more; i.e., for day labourers, 
2d. a, day (6d. of our present money), and 3d. (9d.) 
in harvest ; carpenters and other artificers to receive the 
same. In 1495, it is said that a day labourer could earn 
in a week the price of a sheep. By the statute of labour 
passed in 1563, the rate of wages was ordered to be 
fixed by the Justices. During the Wars of the Roses, 
the favour shewn to foreign artizans, by exemptions 
from imposts, and in other ways, having caused them 
to outnumber the native work people in many places, 
especially in London, where there were 1500 in excess, 
and the English had generally become their servants 
in trade Cardinal Wolsey, while presiding in the 
Court of the Star Chamber, got this state of things 
arbitrarily reversed, by a peremptory enactment, that 
foreign weavers and artificers should invariably serve 
under English employers. Such was the state, political 
and social, of the times, that this extraordinary measure 
seems to have been carried into effect, without material 
opposition or any commotion whatever. This act of 
that great statesman has been highly praised, even 
in the present century, by more than one writer, as 
a politic and patriotic one. But it cannot be wise 
policy to repress genius, or teach contentment with 
low national attainments. Neither does true patriotism 
require the return of ingratitude for favours received 
at the hands of foreigners by withholding their just and 
well earned reward. This legislation probably did 
much to retard and injure the progress of this and 
other branches of our national manufactures. 

These preliminary observations in regard to the 
weaving-loom have been offered because of its antiquity 
and world wide use ; the simplicity of its construction ; 
its standing absolutely alone, until three centuries ago, 
in textile mechanical invention ; the vast importance 
attached to its introduction and use in this country 
by Kings and Parliaments; and the relation its most 
essential parts bear to the machinery eventually devised 
and employed in the fabrication of lace, this being one 
of the subjects treated of in this work. 



CHAPTER II. 



HAND-KNITTING. 

A QUESTION of much interest presents itself on enter- 
ing upon the events that transpired in the sixteenth 
century, and which is directly connected with the 
manufacture of hosiery by machinery. It is inquired, 
at what time, where, and by whom, was the art of 
elastic loop hand-knitting first practised ? No positive 
answer can be given on any of these points. 

It has been seen that no rival machine was devised 
for performing textile operations. But the mind would 
be ever engaged in selecting natural productions to 
serve as materials ; and in searching out useful processes 
and inventions, in which they might be employed by 
well directed skill and labour. The brain and fingers 
of men are scarcely ever at rest. They will twist and 
intertwine; double and redouble cordage; loop, plait, 
knot, and knit, in ways almost infinitely various. In 
like manner, under man's plastic management, silk and 
flax and wool acquire superior fineness, strength, and 
brightness; and have thus become better prepared for 
textile use. Sinewy arms and dexterous hands are in 
fact the natural machinery by which he operates often 
very beautifully and effectively, without any adventitious 
mechanical aid whatever. Thus observing the peculiar 
qualities of the various objects around, his mind suggests 
uses for them ; and seeing what is to be done, at length 
finds out the way to do it. By this tentative course, 
river flags were formed into baskets; reeds, and the 
inner bark of trees were changed into paper ; the outer 
rind into ropes; bullrushes were interlaced and made 
into an ark, which, plastered with bitumen, might safely 
glide down the stream ; and wattled twigs of the willow, 
shaped boat fashion, perhaps after the great ship of the 



HAND-KNITTING. 1 1 

Deluge, and being covered with skins, were found suffi- 
cient to bear adventurous mariners over stormy seas. 

From the time of the Pharaohs and of Job, fishing 
nets were used. These were made by using one line 
only, usually a cord of hemp or other strong twisted 
fibres, wound on a bobbin placed in a shuttle held in 
the hand, by which meshes were formed, whose corners 
were so firmly knotted as not easily to be broken; 
and if broken, the cord would not run out any further. 
These nets were of course non-elastic. 

In elastic looped hand-knitting, one continuous thread 
only is employed in the construction of the web ; there 
is therefore neither warp nor weft. Two or more 
skewers of wood or iron, called needles, are used. One 
of these is held in each hand. A first series of loops 
having been formed on the left hand, the right hand 
needle is inserted into the first loop on the other pin ; 
the thread is passed round it, and it is drawn through, 
when the stitch thus worked into is slipped off upon 
the web already wrought. Thus the loops are formed 
side by side successively upon the needles ; not one 
looped on its immediate predecessor, as boys form loops 
down the length of a string ; but each passing through 
a loop, formed in a previous row next below it. The 
web may be either produced round, as in a stocking, 
and widened or narrow r ed at pleasure ; or in a straight 
line of any desired width, with a perfect selvage on 
each side. Simple patterns are easily made, by looping 
in different ways ; and variegated designs, by the 
introduction of additional colours. This tissue is 
perfectly elastic, which is the quality that most adapts 
it for usefulness. It can be extended without perma- 
nent enlargement or distortion in its shape ; and 
consequently adjusts itself with ease to the size of 
any part of the body for which it has been made, 
and on which it is worn ; and when drawn off, returns 
to its former state. It has, however, a corresponding 
disqualification ; if the thread be broken or left loose, 
the whole tissue may be unroved, or may unrove itself 
by pressure, loop by loop, with great rapidity. Hence 
the importance of strong even yarn or thread, and 
sound fabrication. 



12 HAND-KNITTING. 

The simplicity of the operation, and the ease with 
which it may be learnt and performed, make it probable, 
as some have asserted, that this kind of knitting as 
well as others, was known and practised, if not by the 
antediluvians, by their immediate descendants. It is 
true, that no plain record or description of such a 
process has come down to us. But it is contended, 
that some of the references to stuffs and their production 
in ancient times, cannot be made to harmonize with 
their being manufactured on the weaving-loom. The 
inference sought to be established is, that as tissues 
answering to those described as having been anciently 
wrought, could be produced by hand-knitting in a way- 
far more consonant to the circumstances under which 
they were said to be wrought, it is fair to presume 
that this was the process employed. 

The passages chiefly relied on are in the Iliad and 
Odyssey. In the third book of the Iliad, Iris visits 
Helen. Pope, in his translation of this descriptive 
passage, says 

"Her, in her palace at her loom she found 
The golden web her own sad story crown' d; 
The Trojan wars she weaved herself the prize." 

It is objected that it is not probable these princesses 
and their maids in Troy should be occupied in a kind 
of workshop, in which each laboured at a weaving- 
loom ; and that, a figuring loom ; also, in order to 
produce such a fabric as that described, one of such 
magnitude and intricacy of movements, with so great 
a variety of materials, as would require a multitude 
of sleys and treddles ; the continued selection of threads 
for weft ; and the action of two persons, one on each side 
of the machine, to throw the shuttle to and fro. Pope pro- 
bably knew weaving only as being performed with warp 
and woof. The words of the original may be literally 
rendered, "She was weaving a large web; double sur- 
faced and variegated ; in which she interwove the many 
Trojan conflicts." Cowper translates thus : " She found 
her weaving a gorgeous web, inwrought with fiery 
conflicts." Mr. Wright, in his late translation, says 

"Her she found 

Within her palace walls, weaving a robe 
Of double texture, large, of purple dye, 
Wherein she traced the many grievous toils, &c." 



HAND-KNITTING. 13 

The Earl of Derby, in his still later work, gives 
this version 

" She, in her chamber found 
Her whom she sought ; a mighty web she wove, 
Of double woof, and brilliant hues: whereon 
Was interwoven many a toilsome strife 
Of Trojan warriors," &c. 

Chapman, in his homely phrase, says 

' ' She found Queen Helena at home 
At work about a weed, woven for herself. 
It shined like fire, was rich and full of size, 
The work of both sides being alike ; in which 
She did comprize the many labors warlike Troy endured," &c. 

No mention is therefore made by Homer of the loom 
in this description, and to adjust its various parts to a 
loom, the mighty web, the double texture, and historic 
action, wrought in brilliant hues, would be a task to be 
performed with difficulty even in modern times: more 
practicable however for women in ancient Troy with 
knitting needles than on the weaver's loom. In whatever 
way performed, it must have required, to fulfil the poet's 
picture, admirable skill and patience. 

In Hector's parting with Andromache, Pope uses the 
word 'loom,' twice. "In Argive looms our battles 
to design" &c. Mr. Wright here uses it also : " Carried 

to Argos there in labor of the loom employed." And 

Lord Derby gives it in like manner 

"Haply in Argos, at a mistress' beck, 
Condemned to ply the loom." 

But it is submitted whether it may not be rendered, 
" There you shall weave the web, under the command 
of another." 

In the conclusion of the same affecting scene, Pope 
uses the term ' loom', and so does Mr. Wright 

"Now home; there ply thy proper arts the loom 
And distaff; task thy maidens there." 

Cowper says 

"Hence then to our abode; there weave, and spin, 
And task thy maidens." 

Another reference to this employment occurs, when 
news is brought to Andromache of Hector's death. She 



14 HAND-KNITTING. 

is described in the same words that are used in 
reference to Helen, and thus given by Cowpcr 

"She in her chamber at the palace top, 
A splendid texture wrought; on either side 
All dazzling bright, with flowers of various hues." 

Mr. Wright's version is 

" She in a chamber of her lofty palace 
Wove a large double purple robe, inlaid 
With rich embroidery." 

The Earl of Derby thus renders it 

"In her house withdrawn, 
A web she wove, all purple, double woof, 
With varied flowers, in rich embroidery." 

Further extracts add to, rather than diminish, the 
difficulty of supposing these weavings to have been 
accomplished by Helen and Andromache in the loom. 
If to lessen it, narrow plain woven stuffs were to 
be used as the ground work for rich historic em- 
broidery, in colours to be applied by the needle or hook, 
the difficulty is only partly removed; the stuffs had 
a double loop, a double face, " each side alike, strewed 
curiously with various flowers." How even this could 
be done it is very difficult to understand. 

In the description Homer gives in the Odyssey of the 
labours of Penelope, weaving a web by day which she 
unweaves at night, further mystery occurs, which it is 
thought cannot be otherwise solved than by the suppo- 
sition that her work was a knitted web. If loom woven 
with warp and weft, very far more time would be required 
to take it to pieces than to weave it. There would be no 
time for the Queen to rest, if indeed the warp could 
remain uncut and so again each morning be found ready 
for use. But if it were knitted work, the labour of the 
day though long pursued, could be unroved in a few 
minutes and without any difficulty. 

Whatever judgment may be come to upon the ques- 
tion, between loom-weaving and hand-knitting in the 
case of Homer's princesses, there can be no doubt that 
the tabernacle veil and curtains, together with the tissue 
from which Aaron's breastplate, ephod, and vestments 
were made, were wrought of various materials and 
in different colours in the weaving-loom, and afterwards 



HAND- KNITTING. 15 

elaborately embroidered by hook or needle. So also 
was the longed for prize of Sisera's mother, " a prey of 
divers colours, of needlework on both sides." The art 
of ornamentation by embroidery seems to have been 
carried to great perfection in the earliest times. It is 
for the happiness of man that woman ever seeks to add 
to the merely useful that which is graceful and effective 
in form, colour and design. 

The coat worn by Jesus before his crucifixion is 
described as being without seam, woven (margin 
'wrought') "from the top throughout." How this 
could be effected upon the common loom, cannot be even 
conjectured. But if hand-knitting were then known, it 
might have been l wrought' so as to answer the descrip- 
tion perfectly, in that manner. The garment must 
have been one of a superior, probably costly character, 
or it would not have been so highly thought of, or 
so minutely described. And if the peculiar characteristic 
of hand-knitted web, that of roving out and thus be- 
coming worthless were there, and known to the soldiers, 
that would be a sufficient motive for their casting lots 
upon it, rather than dividing it. This coat might 
thus have been the result of the blessed mother's tender 
care for HIM who was ever uppermost in her thoughts ; 
or of the pious regard of one of that band of holy women, 
who attended the steps of this wonderful Person, through 
his life, and ceased riot their ministry till with reverend 
care they had prepared his body for the grave. 

But if knitting by hand were practised in the east 
before the Christian era, it is surprising that no direct 
historic mention should have been made of it until 
about the reign of our Henry IV. 

It is true that in ancient times the leg was a part 
of the body which was left uncovered, and this practice 
was continued till comparatively modern times. After- 
wards they were partly or wholly bandaged, as in 
Scotland and Italy to the present day. 

When hose were first worn, they were cut out by 
scissors from cloth of wool, linen, or silk, according 
to the rank of the wearer for the most part, and sewn 
up. This, especially in heavy materials, resulted in 
ugly and uncomfortable seams. 



16 HAND-KNITTING. 

The practice of wearing woven woollen caps, by the 
peasantry of England and Scotland, dates far back 
towards the Norman conquest. These were replaced 
by knitted caps; but at what particular time, is not 
recorded. When Chatterton published the poems which 
he attributed to Rowley, the opponents of their genuine- 
ness pointed out a supposed anachronism, bearing on 
this question of the time when hand-knitting first 
became known in England, in a singular manner. 
Under date of 1461 the poet introduces these lines 

" She sayde, 

As herr Whytte honds, Whytte hosen were knyttinge, 
Whatte pleasure ytte ys to be married." 

As, up to the time the Rowley controversy arose, 
it had been the general belief that in 1461 hand-knitting 
was unknown here, the triumph of the unbelievers in 
Chatterton was great when these words were noticed. 
But so far as this passage was concerned it was of 
brief duration. Further examination brought to light 
the fact, that by an act of Henry VII., chap. 17, A.D. 
1488, the price of felted hats was stated to be Is. Sd. 
(or 5s. of present money), and of knitted woollen caps 
2s. Sd. (8s.). An article of common wear in England, such 
as these caps were, must have been for years knitted here 
before they would be placed in an act of Parliament. 
There were eight acts of Parliament relating to clothing 
passed in the seventy-five years between 1488 and 1563, 
in several of which knit woollen caps are spoken of. In 
that of 1548 about twenty-six trades are named. In 
that of 1563, called the statute of servants, it was 
enacted that every person not being possessed of twenty 
marks (13. 6s. 8d.) rental, should wear on Sundays 
and holidays, when not on travel, a woollen knit cap, 
on pain of forfeiting 3s. 4J. (10<s.) 'a-day.' This 
statute mentions thirty trades, which were not allowed 
to hire for less than a year. Amongst these are 
hosiers, clothiers, cloth-weavers, knee-cap-makers, &c. 
Twenty-four were allowed to take apprentices, though 
their parents had not lands or tenements; amongst 
these were turners, mill-wrights, linen and woollen 
weavers, fullers, &c. 

Before 1530, the word 'knit' was well known in 



HAND-KNITTING. 17 

England ; and not {infrequently met with in the writings 
of that time. " I knitt bonnets or hosen." " She tliat 
sytteth knyttinge from morning to eve, can scarcely 
win her bread." In the household book of Sir Thomas 
L' Estrange of Hunstanton in Norfolk, under the date of 
1533, is an entry: " peyd for 4 peyr of knytt hose 
VIII s ." these were for himself; and again in 1538, 
"peyd for 2 peyr I s ." these were for his children. 
An act of Parliament of Edward VI. was passed in 
1552, which names the several articles of "knitte hose, 
knitte peticotes, knitte gloves, and knitte slieves." 

It is probable that knitting stockings would, from 
the difficulty of forming the heels and feet of right 
shapes, follow knitting caps, only after some interval 
of time; and fine hand-knitting upon silk for hose, 
to be worn by kings and nobles, would follow much 
later, from the great additional skill necessary in such 
minute looping, and the excessive pressure on the eye 
attending the labour, whether in the production of 
white or black silk hose. Howell, in his History of 
the World j says, "that magnificent monarch Henry VIII. 
ordinarily wore cloth hose ; except there came from 
Spain, by great chance, a pair of silk stockings." King 
Edward VI. was presented with a pair of silk stockings 
by Sir Thomas Gresham. his merchant, and the present 
was much spoken of. Queen Elizabeth in the third year 
of her reign was presented by her silk woman, Mrs. 
Montague, with a pair of knitted black silk stockings, 
which this person's young serving women are said 
"to have quickly become so dextrous in knitting, that 
from thenceforth Elizabeth never wore cloth hose 
any more." 

Although some have thought that the art of knitting 
woollen caps and hose came from Scotland to England, 
which is not improbable, the above reference of Howell 
to Spanish silk hose, combined with other circumstances, 
lead to the probability that silk knitted hose at least 
first came from Spain to us ; and that the Spaniards 
learned the art through the Moors, from the Arabians, 
to whom the world has been indebted for so many 
other useful arts. 

An account drawn from Stow has become popular, 



18 HAND-KNITTING. 

and is to the following effect: "That in 1564, one 
William Riley, apprentice to master Thomas Burdett, 
having seen in the shop of an Italian merchant, a 
pair of knit worsted stockings from Mantua, borrowed 
them and made a pair exactly like them, and these 
are said to have been the first stockings of woollen 
yarn knit in England. They were worn by the Earl 
of Pembroke who had been one of the Council of 
Edward VI. The citations and dates above given 
shew that this statement is not correct. Knit woollen 
hose were made in this country long before. There 
is little likelihood that woollen knit hose should be im- 
ported from Mantua. But, wrought of sil/c, they would 
be suitable to Mantuan trade. Riley might have learnt 
to knit already. And if the youth saw, borrowed, and 
imitated knit silk hose, it was a feat worthy of the 
marked notice of Stow; and the stockings would be 
worthy of the powerful nobleman who is said to have 
worn them. 

The practice of knitting hose, when once known, soon 
became general as a domestic employment ; not of the 
lower classes only, but amongst the middle and higher 
classes also. In 1577 the peasants' wives, Harrison 
states, "used the bark of alder trees for dyeing the 
stockings they had knitted." The practice of dyeing the 
materials for knitted stockings, or of dyeing the work 
when done, has been continued by the peasantry in 
Scotland and France down to the present time. 

In ] 576 Gascoigne the poet says, the greatest orna- 
ments of dress were, "knit silk stockings and Spanish 
leather shoes." When Queen Elizabeth visited Norwich 
in 1579, some children appeared before her, spinning 
worsted yarn, and some, knitting hose of that material. 
That the use of silk hose was soon by no means 
confined to royalty and courtiers, appears from the 
apostrophe of Prince Henry to Poins in Shakespeare's 
second part of Henry 4th. 

"What a disgrace to me to remember thy name, or know thy 
face to-morrow ; or to note how many pairs of silk hose thou hast ; 
namely, these and those that were the peach coloured ones." 

It has been suggested by Beckman that this art 
of hand-knitting may have resulted from that of wire 



HAND-KNITTING. 19 

working as seen in the screens at Lubec Cathedral, 
wrought in 1572, and in St. John's at Wismar; where 
the ends of the wires cannot be found; these are said 
to be made by the Devil. There can be no doubt, 
that the introduction of this tissue, of so novel a 
kind, yet so useful and profitable, justified Elizabeth's 
anxiety for its prosperity, and her caution in regard 
to any interference with its progress. 

Before dismissing it from further consideration, it 
is pleasant to quote the language of Beckman, who, in 
the fourth volume of his valuable History of Inventions, 
gives the following elegant description of hand-knitting : 
an occupation which, even down to the commencement 
of the present century, like hand- spinning on the wheel, 
was pursued throughout every rank of female society, 
from the palace to the cottage : 

"It may be so easily acquired, even by children, as to be con- 
sidered almost an amusement. It does not interrupt discourse, 
distract the attention, or check the powers of imagination. It forms 
a ready resource, when a vacuity occurs in conversation; or when 
a circumstance occurs, which ought to be heard or seen, but not 
treated with too much seriousness ; the prudent knitter then hears 
and sees what she does not wish to seem to hear or to see. Knitting 
does no injury either to the body or to the mind. It occasions 
no prejudicial or injurious position; requires no straining of the 
eye sight ; and can be performed with as much convenience when 
standing or walking, as when sitting. It may be interrupted without 
loss, and again resumed without trouble ; and the whole apparatus 
for knitting, which is cheap, needs so little room and is so light, 
that it can be kept and gracefully carried about in a work-basket ; 
the beauty of which displays the expertness, or at any rate the 
taste of the fair artist. Knitting belongs to the few useful occupa- 
tions of old persons who have not lost the use of their hands. 
Servants, soldiers, shepherds, and the male children of the peasants 
who are unfit for hard labour should learn to knit, for it may 
be a pleasant and profitable employment for the leisure even of 
the male sex." 

Gr. Henson, History, p. 36, gives an interesting 
view of the situation of the people in the reign of 
Elizabeth, in relation to manufacturing and other em- 
ployments : 

"The wages of every trade were fixed by laws; no person could 
work at any trade who had not been apprenticed to it. None but 
persons of respectability could be apprenticed to most trades ; as it 
required their parents to have a certain weekly income. The handi- 
crafts were mostly confined to corporate towns ; and belonged to trade 
companies, who made their own bye-laws; which, upon being registered 

c2 



20 HAND-KNITTING. 

by the Lord Chancellor, were acknowledged as legal; these trade 
companies chose the magistrates, who were amenable to the working 
class for their election. In the greater number of trades, hiring must 
be by the year ; being under the age of thirty, and unmarried. 
Wardens were appointed by each trade to prevent fraudulent practices 
in the fabrication of manufactures. The merchants traded in com- 
panies, incorporated according to the lauds to which they traded. 
Husbandmen in the villages were equally stationary, and their course 
marked out by law ; their wages were fixed by the justices, their 
hours of working, and even their meals, were defined. They could not 
leave their villages or counties without a testimonial from the clergy- 
man, or other respectable person. The feudal law, which required 
personal service instead of rent, was nearly abrogated ; and a cottage 
with a comman right existed in almost every parish upon unenclosed 
lands." 

A brief account of the kinds of machinery employed 
at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign will be useful, 
before proceeding to relate the notable invention of 
a machine soon after, which was intended to supersede 
(were that possible) the useful art of hand-knitting, 
and was destined to become the fruitful parent of the 
other almost innumerable textile inventions, which, 
with itself, are to form the subjects of this History. 
This list will serve to shew what scanty means were 
available at that time, for assisting to accomplish such 
an arduous and unprecedented design. 

Water power and windmills had been employed for 
ages in grinding corn : also in later times in fulling, 
milling, and dressing cloth. The latter processes were 
as yet so imperfectly performed, however, that those 
cloths which were exported were sent in the unfinished 
state in which they issued from the looms. Carding and 
combing long wools by hand were well understood ; 
but worsted was not allowed to be exported. Even the 
spinning wheel was, as yet, but little employed ; the 
spole and distaff being commonly used. The looms 
for woollen and cotton weaving were very numerous 
and universally spread, but were constructed in almost 
their primitive simplicity, only varied in width and 
gearing to suit the materials and the articles to be 
produced ; such as broad and narrow cloth, blankets, 
linsey woolseys, and linens or flannels. At Norwich, 
calendering machines were used. Mills for scribbling 
cloth had been de\ 7 iscd, but their use was prohibited 
for fear of injuring the texture of the article, and 



HAND-KNITTING. 21 

tay sells (teazles) were re-employed for that purpose by 
order of Parliament. In like manner, cotton fustians 
might not have their nap raised by iron instruments, or 
machines, because of injuring their wear. Iron wire 
drawing was used for chain armour, as also wire of the 
precious metals for the use of gold and silver lace- 
makers, and for figured weaving purposes. This was 
early practised, to supply the demand for garments 
made from cloth of gold and silver. There were simple 
machines for platting stay-laces, and making silk or 
cotton fancy braids, to be wrought into needle-works. 
The turning-lathe was very much used. Casting of 
hollow cannon having been preceded by forged ordnance 
was long practised ; till about 1730 it was followed by 
well constructed machinery for boring them. Metal 
pins were introduced from France in 1513. Within but 
a very short time after, machines had been constructed 
to be used in making pins. Hitherto, they had been 
filed to a point, and the head had been soldered on 
by hand. Great opposition was made to this novelty ; 
but utility and cheapness prevailed in its favour. The 
common sewing needle was brought hither from India, 
after the discovery of the route by the Cape of Good 
Hope. Before that time sewing was performed in the 
method still used by shoemakers. A man discovered 
the method of punching the eye in steel needles ; having 
kept his secret, he realized a large profit by it. 

Although it may be truly said, that inventions in 
machinery and improvements in manufactures have 
been coincident with the decline of feudal governments, 
yet little progress had been made in this direction 
till the middle of the 16th century. 

The very limited use of machines here indicated, 
shews that mechanical science was then but in its 
infancy in England; and it had advanced but little 
further in any other part of Europe. But the mari- 
time power of the English had begun to be established 
and was soon followed by a mercantile marine, bringing 
in materials from distant parts to supply future manu- 
factures; giving us the use of the natural products of 
the world, as if grown on our own hills and valleys; 
and while indefinitely increasing foreign commerce, 



22 HAND-KNITTING. 

supplied means of comfort and enjoyment to the people 
formerly unknown. To bring about such a result it 
was necessary that a host of monopolies granted for 
the profit of nobles, money holders, and royal favourites, 
crippling commerce, and tying up the hands of 
manufacturers, should be swept away. So numerous 
and galling were they, that even the jealousy of 
Elizabeth in regard to trenching upon this part of her 
prerogative as of every other, was braved ; and in 
the House of Commons, in a debate upon the abuse 
of monopolies, it was sarcastically asked u whether 
bread was not of the number?" 

In the early part of the reign of James I. in propor- 
tion as the principles of constitutional government were 
brought into operation, many of these odious privileges 
were abolished. Freedom of thought was thereby 
stimulated in its exercise, and prompted the prolific 
brain of the inventor to new discoveries. By one or 
other of the important applications of practical mechanics 
to purposes of utility, which have since been made, 
processes have been rendered more easy and simple; 
new machinery has been created ; and that already in 
use rendered less complex, and its results more abun- 
dant and satisfactory; till at length, articles of beauty 
and luxury in every department of manufactures, have 
been placed at a cost previously unthought of, in the 
hands of the consumer. 



CHAPTER III. 



INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM BY REV. WM. LEE. 

IF from reasons of state or social policy already 
hinted at, the construction of machines to replace 
or shorten human labour had, as yet, been little 
attempted; the time was now fast approaching when 
the arms, hands, and even fingers of men were to be 
imitated, not only in their ruder labours, but in some 
of their more intricate and difficult operations. The 
principle, that to shorten human labour by mechanical 
skill and power, is to increase riches and capital, and 
furnish more and better paid employment and con- 
sequently comforts to the artizan, has not even yet 
become sufficiently understood in England. In Eliza- 
beth's time its benign light had only just begun to dawn 
upon a few of the more advanced minds in the nation. 
It was reserved for a mere incidental circumstance to 
furnish the first striking example, in modern ages, of 
its beneficent operation. 

It will be anticipated that this example was the 
invention of a loom, capable of perfectly imitating the 
hand-knitter's movements, and producing the like results 
with manifold speed. At that time, to think of devising 
an instrument of the complex and nice adjustment 
required to effect this and to attempt it without any 
previous experience of his own or others, pointing to 
suitable methods and means, shewed a masculine will : 
and to carry it into effect, exhibited innate mechanical 
genius of the highest order on the part of the inventor. 

The history of this important step in manufactures, 
as sketched by various writers, is not a little diversified, 
and in some points contradictory. It is not surprising 
that the origin of the older weaving and knitting 
processes should have been shrouded in mystery and 
doubt, when there is so much obscurity in the early 



24 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM 

history of the stocking-frame as to cause these diverse 
statements, as to the place where the person by whom, 
and the reasons for which, this machine was invented. 
When they shall have been recited, it will probably 
be found, after all, not very difficult to arrive at a 
conclusion satisfactory to the mind of the impartial 
inquirer. 

The discussion, though necessarily involving some 
repetition, is of sufficient interest and importance to 
justify a reliance on the reader's patience, for which, 
in this and some other instances, further apology is 
forborne. 

Aubrey states that the inventor of the stocking-frame 
was a student of Oxford, and probably of Magdalen 
Hall. And Aaron Hill, in his Account of the Rise of 
the Beechwood Oil Invention, published in London, 
1715, relates as follows, but gives neither name, date, 
or proof: 

" The credit of the invention is due to an Oxford student, who 
was driven to it by dire necessity. The young man, falling in love 
with and marrying an Innkeeper's daughter, lost his fellowship 
by it, and soon fell into extreme poverty. They became miserable ; 
not so much from their own sufferings, as from the dread of what 
would become of their unborn infant. Their only support was 
from knitting stockings, at which the woman was very expert. 
But sitting constantly together, and the scholar often fixing his 
eyes on the dexterous management of the needles by his wife, 
he thought it was possible to contrive a little loom to do the work 
with more expedition. This thought he communicated to his wife. 
He joined his head to her hands, and the endeavour succeeded to 
their wish. Thus the stocking-loom was mounted, by which he 
made himself and his family happy, and left this nation indebted 
to him for the export of silk stockings in great quantities, to the very 
countries from whence we before used to bring them, at a loss in the 
balance of our traffic. He became a man of considerable wealth." 

In Evelyn's Numismata, p. 163, "Mr. Lee, or Leigh, 
a curate in some obscure part of Sussex," is mentioned 
as the inventor. Probably the name of the county is 
given by mistake for Nottinghamshire. 

A writer in Biblioilicca Topoc/raphia BriHanica, No. 7, 
says, "the stocking-frame has been attributed to a 
Mr. "Robinson, curate of Thurcaston, Leicestershire," 
but gives no further details. 

The name of Robinson occurs nowhere else in 
connection with this invention. Aaron Hill's account 






BY REV. WM. LEE. 25 

iay be reasonably considered a version of those about 
to be given in reference to Lee, only mistaking the 
university. 

These, together with a claim which has been made 
to the invention on behalf of France, which will be 
afterwards stated, seem to comprise all other names 
than that of Wm. Lee. 

These statements of Aubrey, Aaron Hill, and others, 
tending to discredit the more generally received idea 
that Wm. Lea of Calverton, was the student at Cam- 
bridge, and of St. John's an M.A., have caused very 
rigid inquiries to be made in both universities, which 
have resulted in shewing that he was not of any Oxford 
College, and that he was not a Fellow, and never 
expelled from St. John's, or from any other College in 
Cambridge. It so occurred, however, that while these 
inquiries were prosecuting in many directions, as to 
the Collegiate course of Wm. Lee, attention was drawn 
to Hunter's Ilallamshire, 1819, p. 1-il, in which is the 
following entry, taken from the books of the town 
trust of Sheffield : " 1573. Item : gyven to William Lee, 
a poore scholler of Sheffield, towards the settynge him 
to the Universytie of Chambrydge, and buyinge him 
bookes and other furnyture (which money was after- 
wards returned) xms. iiiif/." 

Upon this Mr. B. Woodcroft, F.R.S. of H. M. Patent 
Office, and who has bestowed very laudable pains upon 
this entire subject, remarks : 

"The fact that Sheffield sent a William Lee to Cambridge, just 
before the invention of the stocking-frame, and at the very time 
probably when the other William Lee was there, is a singular 
coincidence in point of date, name, and University. Lee, from 
Sheffield, would be probably about 17 years of age when sent to 
College in 1573, and 34 in 1589, the year when the stocking-frame is 
said to have been invented; and 55 in 1610, when he (i.e. the inventor) 
is stated to have died." . . . . " The Sheffield Wm. Lee probably matricu- 
lated as a sizar of Clare hall, 26th May, 1570; B.A. 1573-4; M.A. 
1577." Cooper, Article on Wm. Lee, in Athena Cantalrigiensis. 

Next to the statement, in a petition to Cromwell 
in 1656, afterwards to be more fully described, asking 
for a charter, the earliest strongest evidence, and as 
it would appear to the author, that which ought to be 
perfectly satisfactory authority for the statement which is 



26 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM 

most generally accepted, as to the origin of the stocking- 
loom, is that which is given by Dr. Thoroton, at page 
297 of his History of Nottinghamshire, folio edition, dated 
1677, compiled by himself and his father-in-law, Serjeant 
Bown. It is as follows : 

"At Calverton was born Win. Lee, Master of Arts in Cambridge, 
and heir to a pretty freehold here ; who seeing a woman knit, invented 
a loom to knit, in which he or his brother James performed and 
exercised before Queen Elizabeth, and leaving it to one Aston his 
apprentice, went beyond the seas, and was thereby esteemed the 
author of that ingenious machine, wherewith they now weave silk 
and other stockings &c. This. .Aston added something to his master's 
invention, he was sometime a miller at Thoroton, nigh which place 
he was born." 

The copy of Thoroton's folio, from which this extract 
has been taken, is in the Bromley House Library in 
Nottingham, and there is ^vr^tten on the margin of the 
page over against this paragraph, evidently several ages 
ago : " Ex relatione Johannis Story, Gent." The 
following further extracts from Thoroton will be interest- 
ing as to this family: At p. 296 the freeholders 
of Calverton in 1612 are enumerated, amongst whom 
is John Lee's. The name appears in Thoroton's account 
of several of the parishes around and near Calverton. 

"3rd Edward 6th. All pastures and woods and the new Park 
in tenure of Godfrey Lee, remain to the most Kev. the Archbishop and 
church of Southwell." 

In 1612, the owners of Southwell and East Thorp 
are said to be " Gervas Lee, Esq. &c." At p. 351, 

"Edward Lee, son of Gervas, is tenant of Overhall. In Norwel 
church, Notts. Arms are in the chancel," (1677) "granted (1564, 6th 
of Elizabeth) by Sir G. Dethick, alias Garter, to Elizabeth Lee, 
daughter of John Lee, of Stamford, Lincolnshire, wife to Sir John 
Lyon, Knt. an Alderman of London, and her posterity for ever." 

And on a monument for Gervas Lee, Esq. in the same 
chancel, are similar armorial bearings. "All these 
bearings have Eoyal Quarterings." At p. 361, in 
1612, Thomas Lee Gent is found amongst the list 
of owners at Sutton, in the hundred of Thurgarton. 
And that this family, at least in some of its branches, 
located in that immediate neighbourhood, were of some 
consideration as holding landed property, it may bo 
further cited from Thoroton, p. 425 : 



BY REV. WM. LEE. 27 

" That Ed. Lee claimed amongst others against Eoger Copley, Esq. 
the third part of the manor of Scafterworth, Notts, with its appurten- 
ances ; and the third part of twenty messuages, ten cottages, three 
hundred acres of land, forty of meadows, twenty of wood, three 
hundred acres of more, and 3s. 4d. rent with appurtenances in 
Scafterworth, and five adjoining parishes in the division of Bassetlow." 
"Also the like claim against Richard Devenyshe, Esq., and against 
Sir Eichard Carew, Knt." And further at p. 427, "that Henry VIII., 
in the 38th year of his reign, gave by letters patent to Sir Eichard 
Lee and his heirs, the Grange and farm of Walkeringham, Notts, and 
all the lands meadows and pastures there, late belonging to the 
Monastery De Eupe alias Eock, in Yorkshire, then estimated at 114s." 

The places whose names occur in the above extracts 
are all not far distant from each other, lying in the 
same district. It will be observed that Thoroton 
gives Calverton the honor of being the birth-place of 
Lee. Most succeeding authors assign it to the adjoining 
parish of Woodborough, but state him to have officiated 
as a Clergyman at Calverton ; one or two mention his 
being the Curate there. It is remarkable that this 
is not referred to by Thoroton, nor any other particulars 
of Lee's early life; and that though serjeant Bown 
and Dr. Thoroton resided all their lives in the immediate 
vicinity, the latter in active practice as a physician, 
and must have known Aston and Lee's brother at least 
by repute, probably personally, as having been during 
the latter part of their lives engaged in constructing 
and employing stocking-frames, they should have 
been content with the brief reference quoted above from 
their generally copious work. The volume was published 
only sixty-seven years after the death of William Lee. 
The facts were then accessible ; so far as the brief notice 
goes, there seems no reason to doubt their accuracy ; 
especially as the Doctor was manifestly impressed with 
the interest attaching to a person so well known and 
with the importance of the invention itself. 

It is a vain regret, but it is impossible not to regret 
that nothing can now be ascertained as to Lee's youth 
or early education, or his distinguishing characteristics. 
These all seem, as has been well observed, to have been 
now long lost, even to local memories ; partly, it may be, 
by the general dislike with which his invention was 
at first received by hand-knitters; and partly by his 
stay at Calverton, being so soon closed through his 



28 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM 

removal to London, never to return ; but princij 
through the business being for the first one hundred and 
fifty years, chiefly carried on in and near London, from 
which source, indeed, much of what is known to have 
taken place in the origin and early progress of stocking- 
making has come down to the present time. Never- 
theless, there has been so much of interest taken by 
successive generations of the inhabitants of Wood- 
borough and Calverton in this matter, as to have become 
embodied in traditions, which have several main parti- 
culars in common, and the substance of which will be 
found in relations about to be given. 

The parochial registers of that period commence in 
this, as in many other instances, so late as to render 
imperfect assistance in this inquiry. The following 
letter, bearing on this subject from the Rev. Samuel 
Lealand Oldacres, Incumbent of Woodborough, dated 
25th May 1859, is in answer to one addressed to him, 
by Mr. Cooper of Cambridge: 

"In reply to your letter of May 20th, inquiring about Wm. Lee, 
the inventor of the stocking-frame, I have nothing useful to communi- 
cate. The parish register for Baptisms begins with 1547. John Lee 
had a daughter baptised in September 1577 : Nicholas Lee had a son 
Christopher, in 1582; another son in 1583; Thos. Lee, in 1586; 
Isabell, in 1580; William 1592; He cannot be the Rev. W. L. who 
died in 1610; Mary, 1598; Nicholas, 1600. These last seven were 
all of N. Lee. 

Marriages begin with 1573. Nicholas Lee was married October 
1582 ; but his first child was baptised in April of the same year 

The register of funerals begins 1572 ; and at length we find some- 
thing of Wm. Lee Lee, the sonne of Wm., was buried March 1579. 
Perhaps this was a son of the inventor of the stocking-frame. 

Wm. Lee, perhaps the father of the one your enquiry is about, 
was buried in 1587. 

The family of Lee, or Lees, for it is spelled both ways, have con- 
tinued in this parish to the present day. They are now farmers, 
butchers, joiners, cottagers, and owners of property, in the place. 
The brothers Thomas, William, and John, of one family, were lately 
Churchman, Methodist, and Baptist, respectively. They have a tradi- 
tion that an Ancestor of their' s was the inventor of the stocking-frame ; 
and that he lived in a part of an old house now standing. 

" The Parish of Woodborough contains a number of hosiery frames 
for stockings, gloves, shirts, &c. The stockingers are registered as 
Frame-AVork-Knitters. Neither the ages nor business of any persons 
interred formerly were registered, nor the names of the ministers 
officiating were entered in the early registers." 

The Author has had the opportunity afforded to him 



BY EEV. WM. LEE. 29 

of examining the parish registers of Calverton. For 
this he is indebted to the kindness of the Rev. S. Oliver, 
who has been for forty years the Vicar ; and who, from 
the interest he takes in his predecessor in the ministry 
there, most willingly rendered his aid in the search. 
The registry begins 6th October, 1568, 21 years only 
before the date of Rev. W. Lee's invention; and could 
not therefore include a notice of his baptism. The 
following entries occur in it, viz., of 

"The baptism of four sons of "William Lee, viz. Edward, in 1574; 
Robert, 1577; John, 1580; James, 1582. William Lee, the Elder; 
(sic) was buried 1595." 

This implies that there was a Win. Lee the younger, 
and who, if Thoroton be correct as to the Inventor 
being heir to the freehold estate, would be older than 
any of the four registered brothers, and probably born 
before the registry begins. For one 

"Robert Galfer married Elizabeth Lee in 1588, and also John 
Smythe married Dorothy Lee in 1590 " 

who might be two unregistered sisters older than the 
four brothers, and younger than the oldest, if that were 
Rev. W. Lee. 

"Anne, the wife of Wm. Lee, was buried Jan. 1589-90. John 
Wrighte married Agnes Leighe, 1598. Wm., son of Ed d . Lee, bap- 
tized 1606, and Henrie, son of John Lee in 1622. Marie, daughter of 
John Leigh, buried 1629. Ann, daughter of Henerie Lee, baptized in 
1641. Ed d . Lees married Jane Martin 1660. Margaret, wife of Ed d . 
Lees, buried 1661. James, son of Wm. Lee baptized 1696, and Eliza- 
beth, daughter of Wm. Lee in 1703. Henry and Barth w . Lee buried 

in 1712. Sarah, daugher of Joseph Lee, baptized 1721, and in 

1723 ; Wm. Lee, buried 1729 ; and Elizth. Lee, widow, 1730 ; and John, 
son of James Lee 1734. There were baptized, Mary 1733, and Bar- 
tholomew 1739, children of John Lee; in 1733 John and Sarah, and 
in 1736 Wm., the children of James Lee. In 1761 John, son of Thos. 
(a farmer). In 1768 Catherine, and in 1773 another Catherine, 
daughters of Tho s . Lee; in 1771 John, and in 1773 Hannah, children 
of Bartholomew Lee." 

Finally, the following entry occurs in its regular 
order in the register, but reserved to this place, be- 
cause of its importance : 

" Buried, Joseph Lee, Stockiner, the last of the Family of Stock- 
ing-Frame Inventor Lee, in this Parish, 17 April, 1755." 

The Incumbent who made this entry seems to have 
been a careful observer of the events of the times, and 



30 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM 

susceptible of much Christian sympathy with the adverse 
circumstances of his parishioners who, like those at 
Arnold, Woodborough, and other large neighbouring 
villages, were mostly frame- work-knitters. For ex- 
ample, amongst other notices of events, he says, under 
date 1765 

" The Stocking manufacture very bad last year and this. Scarce 
half work to be got, or half bellies to be filled. Tke Lord have 
mercy on the poor!" 

His reference to the extinction of the family to which 
Rev. W. Lee belonged, would not be inserted without 
there being conclusive evidence to his mind on the 
various points included in it. 

The Glebe house at Calverton was standing in the 
reign of Elizabeth, and consisted of one sitting room 
and kitchen on the ground floor, a chamber over each, 
and an attic : some addition has been since made to it. 
The living was then only of 4 yearly value ; there- 
fore Rev. Mr. Oliver reasonably suggests that Lee, who 
certainly ministered there, would not do so as Curate, 
which has been stated, but as Incumbent ; and has no 
doubt that he occupied for his sitting room the apart- 
ment in which these notes were taken by the author. 
He further stated that according to tradition the first 
frame was constructed and worked in a building at 
Woodborough; Lee causing the hose made on it to 
be sold at Nottingham. 

Nothing has hitherto transpired to shew what became 
of Lee's freehold estate. The brothers who are said to 
have all been taught by him the art of frame-work- 
knitting, would be at the time of his invention respec- 
tively 15, 12, 9, and James, the youngest, only 7 years 
old. A certain space must have intervened before the 
latter could take any part, much less the important part 
he eventually sustained in his brother's affairs in London 
and Rouen. He would be 28 years of age when his 
brother died, therefore that assistance would be quite 
possible. 

There is every reason to be assured from full inquiry 
at the time, of the accuracy of the petitioning London 
frame-work-knitters' statement to Oliver Cromwell in 
1656, in regard to the origin of the machine-wrought 



BY EEV. WM. LEE. 31 

hosiery trade, and as to the machine " being an English 
invention by William Lee, Gentleman," (he had early 
laid aside his sacerdotal character). It was made the 
subject of strict investigation by the city authorities 
to whom it was referred ; its truth was vouched for 
by them ; and the Protector granted the charter accord- 
ingly. The existence of this charter has been long 
denied; but it is dated 13 June, 1657, and was enrolled 
in the city archives, 14 July the same year, after 
examination by a committee, and their report thereon. 

Eichard Cromwell acted on a petition from the 
same body referring to the recent charter, in which 
were again inserted the words "it being an English 
invention, &c.," by ordering the seizure of forty stock- 
ing-frames about to be exported. This was in 1659. 

In 1663, Charles II. granted them a new charter on 
a similar petition from the same body, and in which was 
repeated the words, " it being an English invention." 

Dr. Howel, writing in 1680 his History of the World, 
ascribes the stocking-loom to the Kev. Win. Lee, "who 
on an engine of steel, manufactured silk hose, &c." 

In 1751, Dr. Deering says, in his History of 
No ttingham, 

"That the inventor of the stocking-frame was one Mr. Wm. Lee, 
M.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge, and who was born at Wood- 
borough, near Nottingham." 

This writer appears to have visited that village 
and the adjoining one, to learn if anything could be 
then ascertained as to the personal history of this 
remarkable man. He subjoins what was probably the 
result of his enquiry: 

"Traditional story says, that Lee was deeply in love with a young 
townswoman of his, whom he courted for a wife ; but whenever he 
went to visit her, she seemed always more mindful of her knitting 
than of the addresses of her admirer. This slight created such an 
aversion in Mr. Lee against knitting by hand, that he determined 
to contrive a machine that should turn out work enough to render the 
common knitting a gainless employment. Accordingly he set about 
it, and having an excellent mechanical head, he brought his design 
to bear in the year 1589. After he had worked a while, he taught his 
brother and several relations to work under him ; and for some years 
practised this, his new art, at Calverton." 

It is, however, possible that Deering derived this account 



32 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM 

mainly, if not from the frame-work-knitters' petition 
to the Protector, as some think, from Stowe, who in his 
Chronicle says "In the year 1599 was devised and per- 
fected the art of knitting or weaving silk stockings, by 
engines or steel looms by Mr. Lee, M.A., of St. John's 
College, Cambridge. Tradition attributes the origin of 
this engine to disappointed love and pique against a 
townswoman who slighted him. She got her livelihood 
by knitting, and to deprive her of employment he 
constructed this frame." 

Anderson, in the latter part of the 18th century, 
ascribed the invention to the Rev. "W. Lee, M.A., 
St. John's, Cambridge. 

Rees's Cyclopaedia contains an excellent article under 
the head of ( Stockings,' by an unknown hand ; who, 
however, was perfectly master of the construction of 
the machine, an accurate description of which he has 
given. His account of its invention is as follows : 

" This gentleman, Win. Lee, it is said, was expelled the University 
for marrying contrary to the statutes of his College. Thus rejected, 
being ignorant of other means of subsistence, he was reduced to the 
necessity of living on what his wife could earn by knitting stockings. 
This gave a spur to invention ; and by curiously observing the work- 
ing the needles in knitting, he formed in his mind the model of the 
frame which has proved of such singular advantage to that branch 
of our manufactures." 

The writer gives no hint from what source these par- 
ticulars were obtained. 

Blackner in the History of Nottingham, published in 
1815, says 

" The inventor of this machine was Wm. Lee, the owner of a small 
freehold estate at Woodborough, the place of his nativity. Deeply 
smitten with the charms of a captivating young woman of this village, 
he paid his addresses in an honorable way ; but she seemed always 
more intent on knitting stockings, and instructing pupils in that art 
than upon the caresses and assiduities of her suitor. He determined 
therefore to mar her knitting, in order to change her to his views. The 
former he accomplished in 1589, by the invention of an engine or frame 
for knitting stockings ; a curious and complicated piece of machinery 
possessing six times the speed of the original mode, and capable of an 
endless variety of substantial and fancy productions. He gave up the 
fickle fair one to secure wealth and future fame." 

The author gives no authority, especially for that 
additional particular, of the lady giving instruction to 



BY EEV. WM. LEE. 33 

pupils in knitting, which was a very probable circum- 
stance, from the popularity and profit of the art facts 
well ascertained from other sources. 

Gr. Henson gives a somewhat more extended and 
florid account, in his unfinished work published in 1831 : 

"A single man, William Lee, a clergyman of the Established 
Church and curate of Calverton, by the strength of his own natural 
genius, threw a new light on the powers of production by inventing 
an engine to knit by machinery ; increasing speed twenty-fold. The 
attempt was new, and had much to discourage it; and he suffered 
much in accomplishing his arduous undertaking. . . .This gentleman, 
it is universally said, originated this machine in consequence of 
disappointed love. He paid addresses to a young woman in his 
neighbourhood, to whom, from some cause, his attentions were not 
agreeable ; or, as it has been with more probability conjectured, she 
affected to treat him with negligence to ascertain her power over his 
affections ; whenever he paid his visits she always took care to be busily 
employed in knitting, and would pay no attention to his addresses ; 
and pursued this conduct to so harsh an extent, and for so long a 
period, that the lover became disgusted : and he vowed to devote his 
future leisure, instead of dancing attendance on a capricious woman, . . 
to devising an invention that should effectually supersede her favourite 
employment of knitting. He succeeded, and in vain did she (after- 
wards) try to reclaim his attentions. She found, too late, she had 
carried her humours too far .... The stocking-frame remains in attes- 
tation of the greatest triumph of mechanical genius then, or for many 
ages known." 

About the year 1833, Dr. Ure investigated the his- 
tory and machinery of both the hosiery and lace trades, 
partly with the assistance (amongst others) of the present 
author, and gives the result as to the invention in his 
history to this effect. After mentioning the account of 
Wm. Lee's supposed expulsion from the University as 
the result of his marriage, consequent distress, his wife's 
knitting and his invention of the machine to increase 
their means of living, Ure intimates his opinion that the 
following is the more probable statement of the facts 
of the case : 

"It being an ancient tradition around Woodborough, his birth- 
place, that Lee in youth was enamoured of a mistress of the knitting 
craft, who had become rich by employing young women at this highly 
prized and lucrative industry. By studying fondly the dexterous 
movements of the lady's hands, he became himself an adept ; and had 
imagined a scheme of making artificial fingers for knitting many loops 
at once. Whether this feminine accomplishment excited jealousy, or 
detracted from his manly attractions, is not said; but his suit was 
received with coldness, and then rejected with scorn. Eevengo 

D 



34 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM 

prompted him to realize the idea which love first inspired, and to give 
days and nights to the work. This, ere long, he brought to such 
perfection, as that it has since remained without essential improvement 
the most remarkable stride in modern invention. He thus taught his 
mistress that the love of a man of genius is not to be slighted with 
impunity." 

Mr. C. H. Cooper, the late lamented town clerk of 
Cambridge, and one of the most learned antiquaries of 
this age, bestowed much laborious research upon the life 
of William Lee, preparatory to introducing a notice of 
so distinguished a Cambridge man and mechanician 
into his work (now passing through the press) Athence 
Cantabrigienses. The following extract from that article, 
which has been obligingly furnished for our use, 
gives the confirmed opinion of Mr. Cooper, previously 
expressed by letters from him, as the result of his 
enquiries : 

" William Lee, who was born at Woodborough in Notts., and who 
is said to have been heir to a good estate, was matriculated as a sizar 
of Christ's College in May 1579. He subsequently removed to 
S. John's College, and as a member of that house, proceeded B.A. 
1582-3. We believe that he commenced M.A. 1586; but on this 
point there appears to be some ambiguity in the records of the 
University. In 1589, at which time it is stated he was Curate of 
Calverton, about five miles from Nottingham, he invented the stock- 
ing-frame." 

The writer then quotes Deering's account of the love 
affair, and its supposed influence on Lee's mind and 
conduct ; and after reciting, very briefly, some of the 
main incidents of his future life and death, concludes thus : 

" The testimony of those who lived soon after him, and the inscrip- 
tion (on his picture) which we have given, will probably be accepted 
as fair proof that the merit of this important invention is really due 
to Wm. Lee, M. A., of St. John's College, Cambridge ; and therefore 
we cannot but regret that the materials for the biography of this most 
ingenious person are so scanty, and that we have been able to add 
but little to the facts respecting him which were previously known." 

In this expression of regret every admirer of great 
but unfortunate talent must join. But under this dearth 
of circumstantial information as to Lee's personal life, 
it is not so much with what Lee was as a man, as with 
what he attempted and accomplished as an inventor, 
that at this distance of time it is possible to deal satis- 
factorily. In this respect there is happily enough known 
to satisfy reasonable curiosity. 



BY REV. WM. LEE. 35 

Before proceeding to a description of that singularly 
interesting process by which Lee arrived at the construc- 
tion of the stocking-frame, it is proper to state in 
reference to the lack of personal notices of him just 
glanced at, that very diligent search has been made at 
the state paper offices, and at the British Museum, for 
letters or papers written by or having any bearing upon 
" William Lee, the inventor" Particular stress was laid 
upon a careful examination of Baker's MS. collection at 
the Museum ; Baker having been himself a Fellow of 
St. John's, who spent his life in college in making 
laborious collections of everything curious and interest- 
ing connected with it. He died in 1740 ; and could not 
fail to collect any existing documents relating to so 
remarkable a genius as Mr. Lee. In the Catalogue of or 
Index to these MSS., by four members of the Cambridge 
Antiquarian Society, dated October 1848, p. 101, Win. 
Lee is referred to at letters xix. 314, 8, and at p. 100, 
a note of Wm. Lee, xu. 224, is mentioned. But, if in 
the collection, they could not be found after repeated 
search. 

It is not surprising, that with such large results as 
those flowing in a constantly widening stream from 
a source so comparatively obscure, much romance should 
during late years have been mingled up. In this 
instance the romance has been clever and captivating, 
and pictorial art has illustrated the tale with greater 
talent still. Whether the imaginative has not too far 
trenched on the domain of the real, so far as it is known, 
the reader of this chapter will be enabled to decide. 

It is intended that all that is positively known of 
Lee, as well as all that has an indirect bearing on the 
salient points of his career, shall be recorded here, so 
far as is possible, therefore the following principal 
incidents of two popular stories founded upon Lee's 
invention are appended. 

The exhibition of a picture in 1847, painted by 
A. Elmore, A.R.A., a few years ago, called the " Origin 
of the stocking-loom," was accompanied by an explana- 
tory paper ; of which, as it contains positive assertions 
on this subject that do not admit of proof, a short 
abstract will be given. This is the more needful, as the 



36 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING- LOOM 

work was in its execution highly creditable to the artist, 
and consequently has become extensively known and 
admired: 

" Win. Lee was a native of Woodborough : entered St. John's College, 
Cambridge; whence he appears to have been expelled in 1589, for 
marrying against the statutes. Whether he had attained a fellowship, 
for which then, as at the present day, matrimony would constitute 
a disqualification, or whether as an ordinary student he subjected 
himself to expulsion by entering upon that state, we have not at hand 
the means of ascertaining. It is enough for our purpose to know that 
Tie was expelled; and being without means, was driven to take up his 
abode in a wretched cottage with his young wife and infant child. . . . 
There is in the scene, the young fair wife, for whom he had lost all ; 
and the infant, whose coming enhanced their perplexities, which it 
yet consoled. . . .The painter has seized the point at which the poor 
student conceived the idea, suggested by his wife's occupation of 
knitting, of a machine for making stockings. The moment in which 
a new fact in Art or Science flashes on the mind, is perhaps the 
happiest in the life of an inventor. But as it was the first pleasure, 
so it was the last, that resulted to him from it. He settled at Notting- 
ham, and laboured five years in carrying out his invention. He 
solicited the patronage of Elizabeth : but her masculine mind doubt- 
less regarded the invention of stocking weaving by a man, with 
contempt ; for his petition was unnoticed. He had as little success 
with the trifler, James I., and Lee passed over to France, where, so 
far as patronage was concerned, he was more fortunate. Henry IV. 
and Sully warmly espoused his cause, and matters went prosperously 
with him for a while. The death of his royal patron, however, flung 
a cloud over his prospects. He shared in the persecutions which befel 
the Protestants in France; and finally died of grief and despair in 
Paris. . . .Many a heart has been literally broken on the wheel, whose 
revolutions have made the fortune of thousands. ." 

About the time when the subject of this invention 
was thus brought prominently before the public, a novel, 
professedly historical, in three volumes, was published 
under the title of the Nut Brown Maids. The author 
speaks of obligations to Fuller's History of Cambridge, 
Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Charles Knight's Old 
England, Cook Taylor's Romantic Biographies of Queen 
Elizabeth's reign, and Lucy Aiken's Elizabeth. But not- 
withstanding this array of names, the work shews, in 
regard to the life of its hero, Lee, how far imagina- 
tion may travel apart from the pathway of ascertained 
facts; and it is moreover in striking contrast as to 
almost every important event stated in its course and in 
its denouement, with the above relation of the pictorial 
biographer. 



BY EEV. WM. LEE. 37 

As these volumes have been extensively read, and 
are certainly " curiosities in literature," at least to the 
frame-work knitting community, an analysis, but the 
briefest possible, is here given: 

"A visit of Queen Elizabeth to Cambridge, introduces Lord 
Hunsdon, son of Lady Mary, sister to Anne Boleyn, first cousin to 
Elizabeth. His dissimulation and Latin, alike bad, and his custom 
of swearing, made him appear a worse Christian than he was. Wm. 
Lee, of kin to the Champion Lee of Ditchley, destitute of patrimony 
from confiscation, is at college ; 23 years old ; of pale, hard, cold 
aspect ; well knit frame, and an inner fire. He is offered promotion 
in arms by his sovereign, and declines it. The only son of a widow, 
she starves herself to sustain him at College. Cicely Yorke, daughter 
of a man of good family, had compassed the new and intricate 
manner of stocking knitting ; ' the looped invention of the Low 
Countries.' So she sat 'knitting Flanders hose, her many meshes of 
reason and memory, picking up and letting down.' With her Lee 
falls in love, and marries her secretly. She continues to knit in her 
lowly retreat. He preaches in his College, Trinity ; and hopes for 
a curacy, but is disappointed. Dean Whitgift discovers the union on 
finding them together ; it "is avowed, and they go to Nottingham, to 
which both are strangers. In the upper story of a high gabled house 
leading to the castle, Lee proposed to receive scholars, but from his 
reserved manners, he found himself after some time with but three 
pupils, and bemoaned his shipwreck. His wife then undertook to 
teach girls with a brave heart : but her school also proved a failure. 
The author here speaks of the noisy, ramshackle artizans of this 
weaving town. He moreover says, ' It is a well accredited fact, that 
Cicely maintained her husband, children, and herself, by that art of 
knitting, which she had learnt in her maiden home.' Their lot 
realized the legend of Champion Sir Henry Lee, the head of his 
house, ' More faithful than favoured.' Wm. Lee recovers his spirits, 
draws patterns, buys planes, files, and pincers, and is in fact con- 
structing the stocking-loom. At length he shews his wife a stocking 
wrought upon it, saying, 'mayhap, they will call them Will Lee's 
hosen'. To his chagrin, she regrets his success as detrimental to 
the hand-knitters' employment. The news of the machine spreading 
abroad, brought crowds to see the loom, on which a meshed web 
shaped to the human form, was made. Demoniacal power was strongly 
surmised ; and the overthrow of even the old weaving-loom predicted ; 
so an assembled mob in their fury ' smashed the machine,' amidst cries 
of ' No mock weavers to ruin our own old Nottingham cloth.' But 
the idea of the machine 'once created, could not be wwcreated.' Lee 
is described as appealing to Elizabeth, and presenting her with silk 
hose, which he had wrought on his frame. She promises him a patent 
of monopoly, and her support ; and Lee ' enjoyed a blessed peace 
and safety under her all-powerful protection.' He remodelled and 
improved his loom; and carved on the beam, 'More faithful and 
favoured.' " 

Upon these legends it may be remarked that Lee was 
certainly not expelled from either University. There is 



38 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM 

no reason at all to believe lie was ever married, but 
many things concur to lead to the contrary opinion. 
Both these writers take Lee with a wife to Nottingham 
to reside. There is not a trace of his ever living there, 
and of course none of the lonely construction or riotous 
demolition of his first frame there. Had any one of 
these things occurred at Nottingham, the fact would not 
have remained till now unwritten in the well authenti- 
cated annals of that place. 

Even these do not exhaust the number of notices of 
Lee and his machine, which have been made public. 
Those that remain to be cited, refer chiefly to its being 
claimed as a French invention or occurrences which 
are said to have transpired there. Nicholls, in his 
History of Leicestershire, vol. I. part n. p. 621, in a note says, 
that there is prefixed to a poem published by T. Baldwin 
of Hinckley 1776, and addressed "to the hosiers, frame- 
work-knitters, and frame-smiths, of the several counties 
of Leicester, Nottingham, and Derby, &c., on the Rise, 
Progress and Present State of the ingenious Art of 
Frame- Work-Knitting," the following historical note : 

"The English and French have greatly contested the honour of 
the invention of the Stocking-Frame. But whatever pretensions the 
French may claim to this invention, it was certainly invented by 
William Lee of St. John's College, Cambridge, in the year 1589. It 
does not appear that Wm. Lee ever received any hint from any 
person whatever, relative to this great invention. But, according to 
tradition, Mr. Lee paid his addresses to a young lady of great beauty 
and fortune ; and one day he surprised her in a grove, knitting a fine 
silk stocking. It was in this grove that the young lady gave Mr. Lee 
an absolute refusal of her hand ; which so offended Mr. Lee, that he 
declared he would invent a machine that should be a means of spoiling 
the knitting trade. So, it seems, either love or revenge was the first 
moving cause to this great invention. 

However, as soon as Mr. Lee had completed his stocking-frame, 
he petitioned Queen Elizabeth for her royal encouragement. This 
petition was rejected. Therefore, despairing of success in his own 
country, he went to France, and applied to Louis XIII. for his royal 
encouragement and protection. Accordingly, Mr. Lee continued for 
some time at his court ; and the French King was so pleased with the 
ingenious art of Frame- Work-Knitting, that he had a frame made of 
silver for his own use, and really learnt the art of Frame- Work- 
Knitting himself. And the said silver frame is kept in Paris, as one 
of the greatest curiosities in France. After the King had set the 
royal example, most of the French nobles learnt it. But Louis XIII. 
as a greater encouragement, issued out an order that all persons that 
were willing to serve an apprenticeship to the art, should be allowed 



BY REV. WM. LEE. 39 

to wear a sword; which honour no other mechanic is allowed in 
France. 

Some years after, Mr. Lee received an invitation to return to his 
native country, which he accepted ; and soon after, the art of Frame- 
Work-Knitting became famous in England ; and Charles I., with 
a great many of his nobles, learnt it. And it is said, that as Mr. Lee 
had gained so much honour at home and abroad by this invention, 
his former lover nobly gave him her hand, and crowned his wishes 
and ingenuity with her person." 

Nicholls closes the note by judiciously remarking, 
" I quote this paragraph as matter of curiosity, without 
vouching for its historical exactness." No doubt, it 
includes some corroborative points in regard to the 
invention being due to the William Lee, to whom it has 
been generally attributed. All that relates to Louis XIII. 
and the stocking-frame in his court and times, is apoch- 
ryphal. If founded in facts, they would have been 
related by eminent French writers who are silent upon 
them. Charles I. and his nobility were otherwise 
engaged than in stocking weaving. The testimony to 
Lee's death abroad and its melancholy circumstances, 
is too strong to be shaken by the contrary statement 
above quoted. This, with the consummation of Lee's 
happiness it professes to record, may be probably the 
result of popular and natural desire that the genius and 
affections of such a man should have been crowned 
with public honours and the pleasures of domestic life. 

In Rees' Cyclopaedia, the writer of the talented article 
upon " Stockings," states that the English and French 
have much contested the invention of the stocking-loom ; 
and goes on to give the following extract from Chambers' 
Dictionary of Commerce, which embodies the view of 
M. Savary on this subject : 

"Waiving all national prejudice, the matter of fact seems to be, 
that it was a Frenchman who first invented this useful and surprising 
machine ; and who, finding some difficulty in procuring an exclusive 
privilege which he required to settle himself in Paris, went over to 
England, where his machine was admired, and the workman rewarded 
according to his merit. The invention thus imparted to the English, 
they became so jealous of it, that for a long time it might not be 
exported under pain of death, or communicate a model of it to 
foreigners. But a Frenchman, by an effort of memory and imagina- 
tion, first set it up in Paris, in 1656, upon the idea that he had 
formed of it in a voyage to England; and this loom has been the 
model of all those since made in France, Holland, &c." 



10 INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM 

The writer of the article goes on to say : 

" This account seems erroneous, as it is now generally acknowledged 
that this machine was mounted, in 1589, by Win. Lee, M.A., of 
St. John's College, Cambridge, a native of Woodborough, near 
Nottingham." 

M. Savary says, in support of the claim of France, 
that "the English cannot give the name of the in- 
ventor." In this he is mistaken. Thoroton had pub- 
lished it a hundred years before, as has been seen already. 
But M. Savary himself does not give the name of the 
person who is said to have invented and carried the 
frame to England, or of him who took it in his memory 
back again to France. Eoland de la Platiere states that: 

"He heard at Nismes, in Colbert's time, the first loom was 
smuggled from England, at the risk of life to several persons, by one 
Cavellier, and introduced into France ; and that in fifty years there 
wore some thousands of these looms in Nismes and its neighbourhood." 

It must be remarked, in passing, that though it was 
illegal to export machines from England, the penalty 
never was death; in 1696, by an act of William III. 
a fine was levied and the property confiscated. 

M. Savary says, no doubt accurately, that the stocking 
manufacture was first established in Paris, in the Bois de 
Boulogne, by John Hindret, in 1656. The first French 
encyclopaedists ascribe the invention to the English ; as 
did Voltaire in u Le Siecle de Louis XIV." Berlin, 1751, 
12mo. vol. n. p. 118: 

" On sait que le Ministere acheta en Angleterre le secret de cette 
machine ingenieuse, avec laquello on fait les bas dix fois plus 
promptement qu' a 1' aiguille." 

This opinion in France remained undisturbed for 
a long time. Beckman, in analysing the statements to 
the contrary, which he does at some length, thinks them 
weak and unsatisfactory ; refers particularly to the 
London frame-work-knitters petition to Cromwell ; and 
remarks on their statement of the author and circum- 
stances of the invention as being an English one : 

"That every thing relating to it must have then been fresh in 
the memory of those who drew it up, and that every circumstance 
could then be easily examined, and the petitioners must have been 
sensible that any misrepresentation for which, however, they had no 
reason, could easily be contradicted. My object," he goes on to say, 



BY REV. WM. LEE. 41 

" is merely the question, Who was the inventor, in what country, and 
at what time, did he live ? I can say, after the most diligent research, 
it does not appear subject to any doubt. . . .To perfect the practice of 
hand-knitting was a great thing: but not so astonishing as the 
invention of the stocking-loom, which was not, like most great 
discoveries, the result of mere accident, but of talent and genius. . . . 
It appears to me, proved beyond doubt, that the stocking-frame was 
invented by Wm. Lee, an Englishman, about the end of the 16th 
century." 

To this conclusion, it is most likely the great majority 
of his readers will, with the present writer, unhesita- 
tingly come. 



CHAPTER IV. 



THE STOCKING-LOOM, AND REV. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 

THE mechanical formation of a web, constructed of 
the knitting mesh, is so different to the simple passing of 
the threads in the common weaving-loom, the only con- 
trivance for producing a tissue then known, that to effect 
it required original power of analysis and combination, 
of an unusual kind. Forces must be applied in ways 
and for purposes which probably before had never been 
thought of, certainly never attempted. And instru- 
ments, to operate like human limbs and joints, had to 
be devised. The difficulties were immense. Lee, a 
student and clergyman, could have little theoretic and 
no practical knowledge of mechanics, and there were 
few persons to whom he could apply for aid. 

Having become curate in the Church of his native 
village of Calverton, his first essays were made there; 
and either from the artizans of that village or the 
superior ones to be found in the neighbouring county 
town of Nottingham, he must look for the manual skill 
in working upon wood and iron, which would be neces- 
sary in carrying out his design. It has been already 
stated that there is no sign of his ever sojourning, much 
less living at the latter place. It is expressly said that 
the machine was made, as well as afterwards worked 
at or near Calverton. His plan would no doubt be, to 
secure the most clever and teachable artizans of each 
trade, willing to do his work, that Nottingham could then 
supply; and thus step by step make quiet progress 
under his own eye, close to his own home. 

It has been an old saying in this district, " The 
little smith of Nottingham, can do the work no other 
man can." But this vaunting proverb had then not 
been realized, whatever by forge and hammer, file 



THE STOCKING-LOOM. 



43 



and plane, may have been since done there. Yet it was 
already well known for superior manufactures in iron 
and steel articles. Three of its streets were named 
from these trades : Bridlesmith Gate was so called from 
its being the mart for bits, bridles, snaffles, and other 
horse furniture. Girdlesmith Gate, from girdles and 
steel ornaments. Smithy Row speaks for itself. The 
smiths also supplied Nottinghamshire and the neighbour- 
ing counties with "plough irons, coulters, shares, stroakes, 
harrow-teeth and nayles." The reason assigned was 
" the plenty of coals to be got, and of iron made in these 
parts." It seems also that wood- work in turning, carving 
and cabinet-making, was prosecuted in Nottingham and 
the northern parts of the county with much success. 
The excellent close grain of the wood obtained from 
Sherwood forest made it capable of being used for the 
finest purposes, and was just at hand at Calverton; so that 
part of the inside work of his loom as well as the out- 
side could with safety be make of that material. One 
need not wonder, therefore, to read that "his first 
machine was almost wholly of wood." 

During the three years in which it is believed Lee em- 
ployed himself in prosecuting his invention, he is said 
to have used up a large portion of his patrimonial 
means ; even to suffering privation, while labouring with 
intense zeal and anxiety in efforts, often very seriously 
baffled, but as constantly renewed; and which he 
believed would enable him to realize an immense for- 
tune. These expectations absorbed all other avocations, 
interests, and affections. To realize them he neglected 
every other means of existence ; finally, on the comple- 
tion of his great work, resigning his duties and position 
as a clergyman. If upon his success, he also gave up 
the strengthening and ennobling influence of high 
religious principles, he purchased it at too dear a rate : 
for they alone could guide him through the wayward- 
ness of court favour and neglect which he was after- 
wards to encounter, and sustain him under the future 
and final disappointments that awaited him. 

Wm. Lee had a brother, James Lee, who there is 
little doubt was practically instructed during the 
putting the frame together in its use. He seems to 



44 THE STOCKING-LOOM, 

have been his brother's best workman in it, and 
his constant companion and confidential assistant 
throughout the remainder of his life. By them other 
relatives and connections were taught the art of frame- 
work-knitting. They thought the employment so honour- 
able, as to wear silver work needles, suspended by 
silver chains at their breasts. This practice was 
continued by frame- work-knitters, so late as the reign 
of Queen Anne. The frame was completed in the year 
1589 ; and worked, for probably about two years, at 
Woodborough or Calverton, with varying profit. The 
prejudice in favour of hand-knit-hose had to be overcome, 
while finding a market for those wrought on the machine. 

The course which the invention of the stocking-frame 
took, from its first inception in the mind of Lee to its 
completion, was not left on record by himself, or any of 
his contemporaries. But the machine being so soon 
transferred to London, and to a particular spot Bunhill- 
fields Saint Luke's, from whence its use radiated 
amongst other parts to Spitalfields, and after a few 
years to Grodalming in Surrey, added to its forming at an 
early epoch the basis of an incorporated London trade 
company, raised the curiosity of frame-work-knitters, 
then in the first class of skilled workmen, in order to 
ascertain the steps by which an engine so wonderful to 
the people of those days, could have been completed. 
Consequent on the inquiries thus excited, the elder 
stocking-makers and hosiers in and about London, 
where the manufacture was for a long time principally 
carried on, were never tired of relating the difficulties 
encountered by Lee, and the methods he adopted for 
overcoming them. 

The information upon this subject given by Henson, 
cannot, in the main particulars, be far from correct; the 
nature of the machine and its processes corroborate its 
general accuracy. He states it to be drawn up from 
the accounts received in answer to enquiries put to 
Mr. Hardy, Twister's Alley, Bunhill Row, London, 
who was apprenticed to the stocking-making business 
in 1711, and died in 1790, aged 90; and from Mr. Wood, 
Godalming ; also, from an ancient frame-work-knitter, 
who was apprenticed in Nottingham, in Queen Anne's 



AND REV. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 



45 



reign, and who died in Collins's Hospital, Nottingham, 
aged 92. All agreeing mainly in their statements, and 
confirmed, as to the machine, by the working parts 
depicted upon the shield of the arms of the frame- work 
knitters' company, adopted at their first incorporation 
in 1657, and shewn by the engraving given in this 
work. 

About eighty years ago, a statement was made by 
an anonymous writer, relating the course taken by Lee 
in constructing his frame. Henson's account coincides 
generally with this; the differences are such only as 
would lead to the conclusion, that they came from 
separate but authentic sources. It is more than pro- 
bable that Henson had no knowledge of the previous 
statement, though the writer of it was practically 
acquainted with the parts and operations of the stocking- 
frame, as well as conversant with the hosiery trade. 
He does not say from whence he derived his informa- 
tion. On the whole, it may be reasonably concluded, 
that the main facts in Lee's course of invention, have 
been handed down. The following description embody- 
ing them is chiefly drawn from. Henson. : 

" The web of a stocking is knitted by hand, on three or four long 
pins, of a row of loops, and in a round shape ; it seemed to Lee 
impossible to construct a machine to make a round web, having as 
many needles as loops, in the circumference of the hose. Pondering 
on the difficulty, he one day saw his mistress knitting the heel, using 
two needles only ; one held the loops while the other was employed in 
forming a new series. It struck him he could make the web flat, or 
in a straight line of loops; and when thus made, join the selvage by 
seaming them together ; and thus make it round. He was then led to 
the idea of throwing a thread across a long elastic hook, the point of 
which should be pressed down into a hole in the stem of the wire, and 
thus loop at pleasure. He bored the holes, and tried to insert the 
point ; but though he could make the loop on the wire (since called 
a needle), it would not slide easily over the inserted point. At length 
he thought of the groove instead of a hole. But here tools failed him 
in making the groove. He flattened the wire at that part, heated it, 
and turned the edges towards each other, and spoiled much wire in 
the ineffectual attempt. Afterwards, by using a three-edged file, he 
cut out the groove. After spending a long time in making these hooks 
of various shapes, he made the long bearded hook or needle, fit for 
his purpose. 

In his first attempt at looping, he inserted firmly into a piece of 
wood a dozen of these needles, eight to an inch ; fixing this piece of 
wood upon a wooden frame-work, (hence the name frame), and 



46 THE STOCKING-LOOM, 

endeavoured to make a succession of loops upon them by hand, which 
he finally accomplished, knitting on this row of hooks a pair of garters 
in this manner. 

The next point needed, was to form and fix a wooden bar (the 
presser) to press down at one movement all the barbs of the hooks 
into the grooves, using the one hand to bring forward the loops, 
while he put all the beards down into the grooves with the 
other ; and so by passing the row of loops over the beards and needle- 
heads, he formed row after row of loops to pass upon the previously 
made rows, till several inches of web were produced. 

He now tried so to deal with the single thread with which his web 
was to be made, as to gain a sufficient length of yarn in each loop ; 
and so to form the succession of loops, across a series of needles, 
placed in a straight line. All attempts to do this by rows of pins 
fixed upon levers, acting at the head of the needle, where it is bent 
back to form the hook or beard, proved abortive ; so he was driven to 
attempt it at the stem, which, after many efforts, was effected in a 
most ingenious manner by the construction of what are called the 
'jack' and 'sinker.' 

The jack is a lever working freely on a wire, upon which it is 
balanced. In Lee's frame these were of wood, one to each needle, 
and the whole row of jacks were kept in place by working in a comb. 
In the round head of the jack is a slit from which the sinker hangs, 
and works perpendicularly. The sinker was made by Lee from a thin 
plate of tin, and is so shaped, as by passing between the needles to 
carry down as much thread as to form a loop between each pair, then 
to carry them forwards under the needle-beards and close to their 
heads ; and after the presser had placed the points of the beards in 
their grooves, the sinkers brought forward the web of loops already 
formed, and passed it over the row last formed ; then took the work 
back to the stems of the needles ready for a new course. To devise 
one instrument shaped so as to perform so many essential operations 
was a marvellous thing, and was only accomplished after many 
unsuccessful efforts. Still more wonderful, that it was so perfectly 
adapted as to continue, without material change, in use to the present 
time. 

The jacks, when the sinkers were attached, were lighter behind 
than in front, so he placed a row of light springs at their tails to hold 
them from falling forwards, except when wanted to form a fresh row 
of loops. Then they, following the thread thrown by the workmen 
each way, were forced down in rotation by an iron instrument of 
suitable shape, called a slur cock ; which, pulled by a string attached 
to treddles, runs backwards and forwards on a bar, and by striking 
against the jack tails in succession, cause the hissing noise heard in 
frame-work-knitting. 

The whole inside of the machine was first made to run on two 
trucks only; since, on four a" great improvement as to labour and 
speed. For the entire machine has to be moved forwards by the 
hands, then made to sink by means of a central spring ; then to rise 
and to retreat to its former position ; all to enable the sinkers to do their 
successive duties. These movements must be seen to be quite 
understood; and the skill of the workman is shewn in their rapid 
performance by his hands and feet, governed by his eye." 



AND REV. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 



47 



There were in Lee's frame only jack sinkers, and 
the half jacks which connected the movements of the 
jacks, combs, and springs, were fastened to the verge 
bar, which stopped the heads of the jacks when pressed 
up by the locker bar, after they had fallen. This locker 
bar was worked by the foot, as was the frame bar when 
sinking to bring the thread to the heads of the needles. 
After three years Lee made the first actual course of 
loops upon his frame. 

He was not long in learning how, by removing loops 
from time to time on the outer sides of the web to the 
next needles inward, to gradually narrow it, and by 
a reverse process to widen it. 

But here a great and seemingly insuperable obstacle 
presented itself, arising from the peculiar shape of the 
heel and foot of a stocking. He had observed that the 
hand-knitter on coming to this point of her labours, 
first knitted the heels alone, and then proceeded to form 
the remainder of the instep and foot. Misled by this 
he worked the heels alone, and in order to avoid pressing 
the instep off the needles, he brought the instep under 
the needle hooks or beards by hand before pressing in 
every course. It is said that months elapsed before the 
method of working them together was devised by him. 

Thus at length, by perseverance, his efforts and hopes 
were crowned with success, and William Lee, the clergy- 
man, became the first frame-work-knitter. 

The peculiar shape of the needle with the barb 
turned back diminishing to a point is shewn at Plate III. 
with a section of the presser ready to act on it. The 
needle is made of carefully selected and tempered iron 
wire, and, though the result of simple operations, requires 
to be thoroughly well finished by experienced workmen. 
These form a separate branch of business. 

The sinker is seen appended to its jack (Plate III.) ; as 
the sinkers have to pass easily and freely between the 
needles, they are made of sufficiently thin plates of iron 
cut to exactly the same size and shape in moulds. They 
are carefully smoothed so as not to injure the thread on 
which they operate. Making them is also a distinct 
business. 

The frame-smith makes the jacks to an exact size 



48 THE STOCKING-LOOM, 

and with great care, as also the combs. To make the 
jack springs is usually a separate business. 

The operations of the stocking-maker when seated in 
his frame, may be described as consisting of eleven 
movements, in the formation of one series of loops or a 
t course.' These are as follows : 

" Throwing the thread from a bobbin over the hooks or ' needles' 
by hand. Drawing the slur by one of the treddles, to force down the 
jacks and their sinkers, and so to form loops between every other pair 
of needles. Sinking the lead sinkers down on the thread, to divide 
the loops between all the needles ; locking up jacks at the same time 
by the thumbs ; and so equalizing all the loops by these cleverly 
combined movements. Bringing the loops thus formed to the needle- 
heads. Throwing up the frame, assisted by the strong central spring ; 
leaving the loops at the needle heads, and the work at the stem, to be 
pressed over, in forming the new course or series of loops. Then, 
putting down the spring bar or 'presser' by the foot on the middle 
treddle ; and, putting forward the web already made, upon the needle 
beards, which are now pressed into the grooves of the needles. Then, 
letting the presser rise, and at the same time, bringing the web over 
the needle heads. Bringing down the frame to the bottom standard 
to catch the work with the nebs of the sinkers, which are for that 
purpose made in the shape of a long arch. Taking back the web by 
the nebs of the sinkers, holding the frame firmly down. And, finally, 
letting the frame rise to the catch of the copens, holding the thumbs 
firmly to the thumb plate ; and then quit the thumbs for another 
course. The slur is moved for one course, to the right ; and for the 
next, back to the left." 

While the hands are thus busy, and the feet moving 
at the rate of one hundred yards in a minute, the eyes 
must keep watch over the needles as to their soundness 
and uniformity, and upon the work, that it be free from 
blemish, and irregularity in the lines of loops traced 
down its length. In narrow frames the number of 
needles is from 150 to 600, according to guage; in wide 
ones there are sometimes 1500. Fashioned work is 
favourable to the hand workman, by relieving him 
during the shaping of the stocking and other operations 
which require change of labour and position of the body. 
Wide hand-frames on which usually the unfashioned 
work is made, which has to be shaped by the scissors, are 
consequently very trying. Nevertheless, the constancy 
of muscular motion is favourable to the health of the 
stocking-maker. If the shop in which he labours is 
sufficiently warm and well ventilated, this employment 
is more desirable than many others in this important 



Plate II. 




Section of fresher- 2>ar 

ftcton J3 JYeedk beard. 




k. Springs 
I. Slur -bar 

m. 
n. 



Jt . 

<S . 2. oops of we& to pass 

over fiearels. 




AND REV. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 49 

particular. The failure of sight as evidenced by the 
early use of spectacles, is however very common, 
especially so in the case of frame-work-knitters occupied 
in making hosiery of fine qualities. 

By this process instead of, as by skilful hand-knitting 
100 loops formed in a minute, on Lee's first frame 5 to 
600 were made, and upon the frame afterwards adapted 
by him so as to produce silk hose, 1000 to 1500 loops 
were produced in the same space of time. It was not 
long before greater width, fineness, and speed of the 
machine, were attained. At the time of the first inven- 
tion and even now, to those who are not accustomed to 
examine the construction of machinery, the stocking- 
frame presents the appearance of complication in its 
swift movements. A youth ten or twelve years old soon 
learns to work in it. The author at thirteen years of 
age produced three pairs of fashioned women's twenty- 
six guage full sized hose between six in the morning 
and nine in the evening of a summer's day in 1808. 
There are, in reality, no complicated or difficult move- 
ments in the stocking-frame, almost the whole are 
merely those of levers moving on their respective fulcra, 
excepting those of the carriage, which gives horizontal 
motion to the jacks, and a perpendicular one to the 
sinkers; and the alternate motion of the frame back- 
wards and forwards on its four wheels. But the machine 
requires care and experience to keep it in good order. 
This arises chiefly from the small compass in which a 
number of moving parts must be placed to work. 
Owing to this, the needles, unless cautiously handled 
and kept with the utmost nicety in line and equidistant, 
are frequently bent or broken. The sinkers which must 
be very thin are easily injured. As they must pass 
freely, both in a perpendicular and in a horizontal 
direction between the needles in a very limited space, 
the slightest deviation from being truly and squarely 
placed, unavoidably injures other sinkers or the needles 
next to them. When a workman, ignorant of mechanism 
and too impatient to wait for a remedy from another, 
attempts to rectify defects, he often unfits the machine 
for working at all, until thoroughly repaired. This, 
together with the necessary wear and tear of machinery, 

E 



50 THE STOCKING-LOOM, 

has caused a class of mechanics to be employed, called 
smiths or setters up> who act as constructors of new frames 
and repairers of old ones. Inferior workmen often necessi- 
tate a recruit (a thorough repair) of their frames in three 
years : many however are so worked as not to require 
it in less than ten or twelve, and we once knew a steady 
and clever frame- work-knitter, sell his frame at the end 
of twenty-five years, never having had a recruit, nor 
then needing one, a singular instance of care and the 
efficacy of " the stitch in time." The average is about 
seven years. 

Having formed expectations, proportionate to the 
profound thought and skill shewn in the conception and 
completion of his machine, and to the consciousness he 
seems to have felt, that it was calculated to administer 
greatly to the comfort and advantage of his countrymen, 
Lee removed it to London, with the intention of seeking 
the approval and countenance of his sovereign. His 
brother and other workmen, his relatives, went thither 
with him. When the invention of a complicated knitting- 
frame became known there, it was thought to be an 
almost miraculous event. 

The nation was at that moment nearly delirious 
with joy, at being delivered from threatened invasion 
by the Spanish Armada. Lord Hunsdon had commanded 
a main body of the army raised upon that occasion. 
He was also a near kinsman of Elizabeth. To him 
Lee made known his desire to exhibit this wonder- 
working machine, and shew its method and powers in 
her presence. The whole court seems to have been 
filled with curiosity upon the occasion. Elizabeth 
herself, having heard ' the news, and received Lord 
Hunsdon's request on Lee's behalf, was not indisposed 
to accede to it ; and at length attended by Hunsdon and 
his son, Sir William Carey, she repaired to Lee's lodg- 
ings in Bunhill-fields, at which place he had set up the 
frame. Either himself or his brother James had the 
honour there of working his machine before their sove- 
reign. The Queen expressed her sense of the ingenuity 
displayed by the invention, but to Lee's great mortifica- 
tion shewed her marked disappointment, that instead of 
fine silk hose as she had expected, the production was a 



AND REV. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 51 

coarse worsted-stocking. Indeed it was only eight 
needles or wales to the inch in width. Notwithstanding 
this untoward circumstance, Lord Hunsdon had faith in 
the ultimate importance of the enterprise, and pressed 
this conviction upon his mistress, begging that a patent 
of monopoly might be issued to the inventor. But 
most probably for other and important state reasons, be- 
sides the one she is said to have avowed, the influence of 
her highly valued relative was, on this occasion and 
afterwards, unsuccessful. Elizabeth's answer to Lord 
Hunsdon on his intercession for Lee, is thus related : 

" My Lord, I have too much love for my poor people who obtain 
their bread by the employment of knitting, to give my money to 
forward an invention, that will tend to their ruin by depriving them 
of employment, and thus make them beggars. Had Mr. Lee made 
a machine that would have made silk stockings, I should, I think, 
have been somewhat justified in granting him a patent for that 
monopoly, which would have affected only a small number of my 
subjects; but to enjoy the exclusive privilege of making stockings 
for the whole of my subjects, is too important to be granted to any 
individual." 

After much search of the public records and in other 
quarters, no patent of Elizabeth to Lee can be found, 
nor the record of any one granted to him. His followers 
for ages denied there ever was one. And the account 
by Henson of many parchments and papers being 
destroyed on the death of Mr. Seagrave, town clerk of 
Nottingham, " amongst which was one in a tin box 
having a large seal, on examining which" (the relator, 
one Twells a tailor, says) "I found it was a deed of 
patent, granted to Mr. Wm. Lee, for the use of the 
stocking-frame," has little air of likelihood about it. How 
came it there, and after two hundred years enquiry 
after it, how could it have remained unnoticed and even 
unknown, in the hands of the public officer of that town, 
which had become commercially important by the use 
of this very machine ? Henson' s supposition is that 
Seagrave obtained possession of this document, during 
the disputes respecting the charter of Charles II., in 
1753. It is not easy to imagine what motive there 
could be on the part of any descendant of Lee, and still 
less on that of the Frame- Work-Knitters' Company, 
to part with this document ; or of the Nottingham town 

E2 



52 THE STOCKING-LOOM, 

clerk to conceal it, while in his possession, if it ever 
were so. 

So great was Hunsdon's confidence in the value of 
this invention, and so high his estimate of the profit to 
be derived from it, that he bound his son by deed of 
indenture as an apprentice to Lee, that lie might learn 
the art of frame-work-knitting, and thus made him a 
guarantee to Lee for the security of his invention, as 
well as to obtain for himself a claim to share in the large 
anticipated profits. In this manner, Sir William Carey, 
a knight, the son of a peer and of the royal blood, became 
one of the first stocking-maker's apprentices. His father 
no. doubt furnished the greater part, if not the whole of 
the funds, expended in constructing the next and some 
subsequent frames. 

Lee, though chagrined, was not daunted by the 
Queen's reply. He determined to fulfil the expectation 
she had expressed, and at once proceeded to construct 
a machine, on which silk hose could be made. This was 
a frame with twenty needles to the inch, requiring a 
comparative reduction in the thickness of the needle 
wire ; and the substitution of iron for wood jacks, and 
sinkers so much thinner, that five should work in the space 
occupied by two in the first machine, with all the other 
internal parts to correspond. The principle of the 
machine was unaltered, but its construction in those 
days was rendered, by this change, so much more 
difficult, that it was only by his own strong will and 
the aid of his talented brother James, and their skilful 
and faithful colleagues, that this notable feat was accom- 
plished. 

He now proceeded to make silk hose. Hitherto he had 
experienced the mortification which was to be the lot of 
many future inventors. " Because he had not accom- 
plished everything he had done nothing." This silk- 
hose-frame had been very costly in time, labour, and 
money. It was not completed till about 1598, which 
has been taken by some writers, as the date of the 
invention of the original machine, instead of its success- 
ful adaptation to the wishes of this imperious Queen, 
and the requirements of her expensive courtiers. Lee 
presented Elizabeth with a pair of silk hose thus 



AND KEY. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 53 

produced, which she accepted with many praises for 
their elasticity and beauty of texture. But his prospects 
were not improved thereby ; neither patent nor money 
were forthcoming to do honour or bring profit to the 
inventor. He discontinued attendance at court, and 
employed himself sedulously in the construction of more 
frames, being thenceforth seldom seen any where but in 
his workshop. Of these he erected nine which were 
worked by his relatives and apprentices ; upon them it 
is probable he expended all his remaining means. 

In 1603, he saw his great but politic and parsi- 
monious sovereign laid in the grave. On the accession 
of her successor, Lee's hopes of court favour and of a 
patent revived, especially as it was known that before 
leaving Edinburgh, James had borrowed a pair of silk 
hose from the Earl of Mar, saying, " Ye would not have 
your King appear like a scrub before strangers." But 
again he was disappointed. In this matter Cecil does 
not appear to have exercised his usual foresight ; or he 
was thwarted in regard to fostering so promising a 
manufacture. It is said, but by one writer only, and 
that a recent one, that Lee worked his frame also in the 
presence of James : but it is unlikely. After the death 
of Lord Hunsdon and his son, meeting with continued 
neglect, he fell into a deep melancholy. Upon which 
Deeriiig quaintly remarks 

"He shewed an experiment in this kind of workmanship ; offering 
the discovery to his countrymen, who, instead of accepting the offer, 
despised him, and discouraged his invention. Being thus discounten- 
anced by his native country, and soon after invited over to France, 
with promises of reward, privileges, and honours, by Henry IV., he 
embraced the seeming fair opportunity, and went himself, taking his 
brother and nine workmen, and as many frames, to Eoan (Rouen) in 
Normandy, where he wrought with great applause." 

These offers were made by Sully, the celebrated 
Marquis de Eosny, a special envoy to the English 
sovereign, who, with the design of assisting to revive 
the decaying manufactures of France, thus desired to take 
advantage of the neglect of Cecil. Lee at first hesitated 
to accept them, because of the tendency to religious 
persecution in France ; but at length he determined to 
close with the ambassador, and went thither. On 
arriving and fully establishing his machinery there, he 



THE STOCKING-LOOM 



was called up to Paris, and presented by Sully to 
Henry, meeting with a gracious reception. This, added 
to his successful commencement of operations at Rouen, 
once more raised hopes of good fortune, and he was fast 
rising into note. While waiting in Paris, expecting a 
special grant of privilege, and an arrangement by the 
Minister for the enlargement of the business at Rouen, 
the assassination of Henry IV. by Ravaillac took place, 
destroying Lee's position and his hopes at one fell 
blow. The Minister having resigned his office in 
disgust, Lee found him retiring from Paris to his estates 
in the country. The Regent, Mary de Medici, with- 
drew her protection from Lee ; he became suspected at 
court on account of his Protestantism ; his fortitude 
forsook him ; he fell into poverty and distress, and a 
deeper melancholy than that which had haunted him in 
London. Finding himself unprotected in a foreign 
country, and left to bear the pangs of a deeply wounded 
spirit alone, he sent a message to his brother James to 
come to him from Rouen. But it was too late : for 
before the arrival of his brother, the great inventor of 
the stocking-loom, almost an outcast from, his native 
land, and an alien in France, after nearly twenty-five 
years of deferred hope, had died in Paris of a broken 
heart, and was already buried there. This event took 
place in 1610. If England had the honour to give him 
birth and education, France, from the just appreciation 
of his merit by her great sovereign and still wiser 
statesman, gave him the only royal patronage he ever 
obtained and a grave. 

It has been stated, that there is absolutely nothing 
in that which is known of Lee's life, to justify the 
idea that he had a wife or a child to cheer and animate 
him through any part of his arduous and eventually 
saddened career. Had there been such, some trace 
must surely have been left of the fact in the relations, 
however brief, of his expatriation, his disappointment, 
and especially, of his death. 

No reminiscences have survived the intervening cen- 
turies descriptive of Lee's personal appearance, his 
manners, his natural disposition, or his general conduct 
and habits. Born in the middle ranks of life, and 



AND KEY. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 



55 



educated as a gentleman with the learning of a studious 
collegian, he must have been fitted to take a part in the 
high society amongst which he frequently moved. By 
the boldness of his claim to the notice of Elizabeth, and 
his unquestioned success, he became known in the 
circle of gifted men who surrounded that keen-eyed 
princess, as the first English mechanician of his own or 
any preceding age. So far his ambition was gratified. 
Still more so, when the great merit of his invention was 
acknowledged in the presence of the court of France. 
But pecuniary reward depended on the smiles of fortune, 
of whose fickleness few more striking instances are on 
record. Riches were not at once superadded to fame ; 
and Lee could not either bide the time for their slow 
accumulation, or resolve to abandon the hope for them, 
and rest content with the consciousness of having 
deserved the prize. In the prosecution of this effort 
of mechanical genius, all his faculties were engaged to 
their fullest extent, and entire success seems to have 
been necessary to their continued and vigorous exercise. 
In proportion as that success was delayed, his horizon 
darkened and closed in. He could not look with calm 
and clear vision beyond or above it. He seems at these 
times neither to have been aided by the philosophy of 
the schools, which he had studied, nor to have realized 
the self-sustaining faith of the Christian, which he had 
for a time preached. The thoughtful mind cannot but 
revert with anxious and deep sympathy, to the reflec- 
tions of that once powerful intellect, in the closing hours 
of life. They have passed away, leaving no record 
behind. They would, no doubt, be deeply shaded by 
a sense of the vanity of courtly applause, and of resting 
hopes of real happiness on anything external to one's self, 
except it be Divine. The idea must be indulged, that 
as the services of twenty years before in that small 
parish church of Calverton would surely often return to 
memory, so the lonely gloom of that far off chamber 
might be lighted up by the rays from heaven, which 
shone upon those early sacred engagements. 

Lee should ever be held in high regard by those who 
study and practise mechanical science, because in the 
very commencement of modern practical invention, he 



50 THE STOCKING-LOOM, 

asserted its value while lie shewed its results ; placing 
his master mind not merely on a level with, but on a 
higher platform than, that occupied by nobles and even 
statesmen, who seem never to have disputed the right 
or withheld the respect due to so eminent a genius. 

It has been found impossible to adorn this volume 
with a copy of the original likeness of Lee. That 
painting is not to be found. The figure and face of the 
clergyman in an engraving of the arms of the Frame- 
Work-Knitters' Company is supposed to be taken from 
a picture by Balderston, formerly hanging in their Hall, 
Redcross Street, London. This contained the portrait of 
a man in collegiate costume, pointing to an iron stocking- 
frame, and addressing a woman who is knitting with 
needles by hand. It bore the following inscription : 

" In the year 1589, the ingenious William Lee, A.M., of St. John's 
College, Cambridge, devised this profitable art for stockings, (but, 
being despised, went to France,) yet of iron to himself, but to us, and 
others, of gold, in memory of which this is here painted." 

. As the original painting by Balderston is so interest- 
ing a work of art, in connection with this history, it is 
to be much regretted that Mr. B. Woodcroft is com- 
pelled to state that " desiring to place it in the gallery 
of eminent men in Kensington Museum, he cannot find 
it, or any likeness of Lee, after enquiries carried on 
through a long course of years." The following is an 
extract permitted to be taken from his notice of this 
eminent inventor, in the "catalogue of portraits in the 
Museum at South Kensington." Its contents have an 
important bearing on the possible restoration of the 
original painting to some worthy public position, having 
been parted with by the company at a period of 
pecuniary embarrassment, and probably now in private 
hands : 

"On the inside of the cover of the second book of the company's 
record, are two lists, dated 1687, of plate, pictures, &c., then belonging 
to and in the possession of the company ; in one of which lists, is 
an item ' Mr. Lee's picture ly Balder ston? In 1708, Hatton's book 
was published, which, at p. 605, vol. n., mentions this picture. From 
1732, the company's books shew no more meetings at their hall, 
which probably the company let, and removed its plate, pictures, &c. 
to a tavern. There are no minutes of any court being held from 1732 
to 1745; from which date the company appears to have held its 



AND REV. WM. LEE, CONTINUED. 57 

courts at the White Hart Tavern, Bishopsgate Street. In 1755, a 
bond was entered into by the then landlord of the Dog Tavern, 
Garlick Hill, for securing ' the plate, Sfc.,' belonging to the com- 
pany, and deposited with him for its use ; no copy of the bond or its 
schedule, however, is made in the books. In 1759, the hall was 
leased to Mr. Seward, a brewer ; if not previously, Mr. Lee's picture 
must then have been removed. In July, 1761, the company removed 
its ' plate, colors, furniture, &c.' to the Ship Tavern, Threadneedle 
Street ; where the courts were held with tolerable regularity for about 
nine years ; after which various taverns seem to have been used ; and 
subsequently to 1772 the company met frequently at the New England 
Coffee-House ; and again at the White Hart Tavern ; but no further 
mention is made of ' Mr. Lee's picture by Balderston ;' which, it is 
probable, was included either in the 'plate, &c.' of 1775, or 'the 
plate, colors, furniture, &c.' of 1761 ; for there is in the company's 
possession a copper-plate for court-summonses dated 1777, engraved 
with a similar heading to the above, and as it is not improbable that 
the picture was In the company's possession in 1761, it is also most 
probable that the engraving, which tallies with Hatton's description 
on the plate, dated 1777, was taken from Mr. Lee's picture. There 
is no entry subsequent to 1770, by which the existence of the picture 
can be inferred, or its fate determined. The above engraving seems 
to be a close imitation of the plate dated 1777." 

Mr. Woodcroft records an additional statement, de- 
rived also from individuals officially connected with the 
Frame- Work-Knitters' Almshouses in London : 

"I can only add, it is my opinion that the picture was, together 
with others, taken by 'Mr. Kobinson of Threadneedle Street,' about 
1773, either to wipe off a debt due to him by the company, or as a 
security for its repayment. Mr. Eobinson was an influential member 
of the court of Frame- Work- Knitters, and resided in Threadneedle 
Street ; courts were sometimes held at his house ; and from time to 
time, he lent the company money, as appears by their books now 
extant." 

In Cunningham's Handbook of London, p. 527, this 
portrait is said to be at Weaver's Hall. E. Seymour, in 
Survey of London, vol. IL, p. 603, gives the inscription. 
Von Uffenbach, in his Reisen, vol. n., p. 571, says, 
"which picture and inscription, I saw." 

George Balderston, one of the first wardens of the 
company under the charter, was probably a relative of 
the painter of this portrait. If so, he would be likely 
to take care that the clergyman in the coat of arms, 
should bear a strong resemblance to the picture. 

Is a monument to the memory of William Lee 
sought after? Let the enquirer visit Nottingham, 



58 THE STOCKING-LOOM, &C. 

Leicester, Chemnitz, Appolda, Troyes, and Nismes. 
The teeming populations of those cities, with the dis- 
tricts around them, and the vast manufactures in which 
they are profitably employed, silently and unintention- 
ally, but eloquently, perpetuate his fame. For the 
foundations of the trade, which has grown into such 
magnificent proportions and made them rich and great, 
were laid by him. 



CHAPTER V. 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER- 1610 TO 1750. 

THE writer in BiUiotheca Topographia Brittanica 
already quoted, says "Mr. Lee, after some years resi- 
dence in France, received an invitation to return to 
England, and accepted it. Thus the art of frame-work- 
knitting became famous in this country." This is 
altogether a mistake. Upon Mr. James Lee's returning 
from Paris to his countrymen at Rouen, with the sad 
news of Lee's decease, after a serious conference amongst 
them, it was decided by seven of the number to return 
immediately to England, taking with them all the 
machines except one, which was allotted to the two work- 
men who remained behind, hoping to get the privileges 
and rewards promised to Lee. J. Lee brought these 
frames to London, where they were set up, in Old Street 
Square, and worked, and became the foundation of the 
London hosiery manufacture. 

Thus was the business very near being permanently 
established in France from the time of Lee, and in this 
manner was it, contrary to all reasonable expectation, 
brought back again. No sooner was the fact of the 
return generally known, than, as if to make up for the 
national neglect of the inventor by posthumous appre- 
ciation of his genius, people of all kinds and classes 
strove to become frame-work-knitters. The owners of 
the returned machines sold them, intending to construct 
others. This arose from the circumstance that one 
Aston, then a miller at Thoroton near Nottingham, but 
formerly an apprentice to Lee before he went to Rouen, 
though he declined to accompany him thither, had, during 
the interval, continued to direct his attention to the 
machine, with a view to its improvement. Immediately, 
therefore, upon effecting a sale of his machinery, James 



60 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

Lee left London and returned to Nottinghamshire, and 
without loss of time joined Aston, who he found had 
really devised an important addition to the inside parts 
of the machine. They at once begun to make frames 
on this plan about the year 1620. The novelty consisted 
in the introduction of one fixed sinker, placed between 
every two moveable jack sinkers ; and thus, either allow- 
ing half the jacks and their sinkers to be dispensed with, 
or else by the addition of these fixed lead sinkers (so 
called because their upper ends were imbedded in lead), 
and an equal number of needles, to double the gauge 
of the machine. Either way the cost of the frame was 
much reduced. But, in applying the invention, they 
found that the jacks must be raised, in the act of lower- 
ing the fixed sinkers, in order to get the thread divided 
into loops of equal depth, without deranging the hori- 
zontal line of the needles. They were thus led to 
discard the lever, working the locker bar from the front, 
by placing a long lever in front of the locker axles cut 
aslant in front, and forcing it up by a plate on each 
side, worked by the thumbs upon an axle at the top, 
having an inclined nob, and by driving one slant 
against the other, raised the jacks in front by pressing 
behind the bar. Thus were the lead sinkers, thumb 
plates, and lockers added. Machines were built in great 
numbers, altered in this way, both in London and in 
the neighbourhood of Thoroton, Calverton, and Wood- 
borough ; the population of which villages increased 
rapidly within the next fifty years, as is evidenced by an. 
incidental remark of Thoroton, complaining, as to Cal- 
verton, of the emptiness of the church, notwithstanding 
the populousness of the parish. William or James Lee 
had taken an apprentice in London named Mead, whose 
time was not yet finished, as an apprenticeship might 
at that period be legally prolonged to the age of twenty- 
four. The remainder of his term was purchased from 
James Lee, together with one frame, for 500, by the 
Venetian Ambassador, who desired to repeat Sully's effort 
with better success in favour of that city. Venice was 
still the most commercial city in the world, though the 
route to India by the Cape was now open. They were 
reputed to have the best smiths in Europe. The envoy 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHAKTEK. Cl 

transferred Mead and the machine to Venice, where it 
was worked, and others were attempted to be constructed 
like it, but without success. For, skilful as some of 
the mechanics were, they could not make needles, or 
sinkers, or otherwise repair the one in their hands, 
much less construct others that could be worked. The 
necessary inside parts would have been continually re- 
quired to be sent from London, 800 miles overland or 
1600 by sea. So when the stock of needles and sinkers 
was exhausted, the scheme came to an end. Mead, at 
the close of his engagement, returned to London, bring- 
ing the dilapidated machine and the abortive imitations 
with him, and they were disposed of for little more than 
the value of old iron. This was in 1621. Zano says: 

" That after Mead's unsuccessful attempt, one Gian Battista Carli, 
a steel worker at Grerona, drew the plan and constructed an imitation 
of an English stocking-loom, which he had seen at Venice, and 
established the manufacture at Udino ; where frames continued to be 
worked for some time. But in consequence of the poverty of the 
Venetians who were employed there in making hose, no more frames 
were permitted to be set up ; and those already at work were after- 
wards sent to Gradisca, in Austria, where the Venetian Udino hose had 
been chiefly sold." 

Sir Joshua Child mentions that, in 1670, the Vene- 
tians had not got the stocking-loom, but that English 
hose were exported there at that date. 

The number of frames and workmen greatly increased 
both in London, Godalming, and Nottinghamshire ; 
chiefly, however, in London, because of the facility 
aiforded for the execution of orders for fancy goods, 
made to suit the colour and fashion of the clothes then 
worn, and which commissions generally required im- 
mediate execution. 

The London frame-work-knitters formed themselves, 
early in the 17th century, into a Trade Association; 
regulating prices, and opposing non-apprenticed hands 
working at the business. But the employment was so 
profitable as to induce people to offer money to be 
taught. Some in the trade took it, and were thought 
to have committed a heinous offence. 

One Abraham Jones, a master stocking-maker in 
London, was so harassed by this combination, as to go 
with other transgressors to Amsterdam, taking with him 



62 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHAETER. 

frames improved after Aston's method. After a time 
the plague broke out in that city, and Jones, with his 
wife, family, and all his men, died. His frames were 
brought back to London about 1633, and were sold for 
a trifling sum, his adventure being thought unpatriotic, 
and its conclusion a judgment on him and his. 

The rule of the self-constituted company continued 
to be set at naught, especially in the matter of apprentice- 
ship. Non-apprenticed catholic workers were driven 
abroad to Brabant, and protestants into Germany, but 
after awhile most of them returned home again. 

The two men left by James Lee in France made 
little progress ; one at length died, and the survivor at 
the end of forty years still worked his jack-frame, 
unimproved by the addition of Aston's lead sinkers. 

After James Lee's death, the business of stocking- 
making in Nottinghamshire had passed through Aston 
and his family into many hands spread over north 
Nottinghamshire. 

In 1641 there were two master hosiers in Nottingham, 
and it is probable the owners of frames in the north of 
the county brought their produce to that town for sale 
to these manufacturers and dealers. From this time the 
trade gradually spread through the adjoining counties of 
Derby and Leicester. The midland district, over which 
it has been located for ages, extends from Chesterfield 
in the north to Market Harborough in the south, and 
from Newark in the east, to Ashby-de-la-Zouch in the 
west, a space of seventy miles by forty-five in its greatest 
length and breadth. 

From the time when the union of frame-work- 
knitters arose, the London hosiery trade disputes were 
constant; and the company's difficulties in enforcing 
their restrictions were becoming every year more press- 
ing. But the manufacture increased at a distance from 
the metropolis as the result of its freedom, and there 
was a voluntary transfer of London hands to the 
counties. James Lee and Aston had long before begun 
to work on their improved machines, worsted (for which 
they were specially adapted) an article spun in the 
neighbourhood of Sherwood Forest, from wool grown 
there of the longest and finest staple in England, and 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTEE. 63 

equal probably to any in Europe. Articles made from 
this yarn were strong enough to compete in wear with 
hand-knitted hose, which were made from extra twisted 
materials. 

The London frame-work-knitters now put into their 
old twelve guages the additional sinkers and needles ; 
and so making them 24 guage ; which machines ever 
since have (with 26 guage) been called altered frames. 

A master frame-work-knitter, named Pickard, whose 
family continued in the business so long as it was 
carried on to any extent in London, determined to 
teach the art to any one who would pay him, and so set 
the Company at defiance. He was also accused of 
making ' fraudulent' i.e. underfashioned goods ; his silk 
hose were declared to be unsound, and his worsted hose 
deficient in the number of threads, and dyed with log- 
wood instead of madder. Such were the allegations 
with other more general reasons on which the company 
rested the application, which, by petition to Oliver 
Cromwell, they made to be incorporated by charter 
like other London trades ; especially as he had just 
granted incorporation to the sewing-needle-makers, 
in 1656. 

This application to Cromwell, together with a sub- 
sequent similar one to Charles II., were fraught with 
such important consequences to the trade as to require 
special notice. 

It has not been ascertained where Deering obtained 
the copy of this petition, which he has given entire in 
the appendix to his History. He has laid his readers 
under obligation by inserting it. It is a very interesting 
document, from the insight it gives into the views our 
ancestors of that day took of manufactures and trade, 
as well as on account of the manly, though quaint, 
language in which it is couched. It is also valuable, 
because of the corroborative facts it embodies, respecting 
the origin of the business, whose interests the petitioners 
desired to serve, and of its usefulness and advantage to 
the commonwealth. 

"To His Highness the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, 
Scotland, and Ireland. 

"The humble representation of the promoters and inventors of 



C4 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

the art and mystery or trade of frame-work knitting, or making of 
silk stockings or other work in a frame or engine, Petitioners to your 
Highness, that they may be united and incorporated by Charter under 
the Great Seal of England Whereby their just right to the invention 
may be preserved from foreigners, the trade advanced, abuses therein 
suppressed, the benefit to the Commonwealth by importation and ex- 
portation and otherwise, increased; and hundreds of poor families 
comfortably relieved by their several employments about the same, 
who will otherwise be exposed to ruin, having no other calling to 
live of. 

"Their trade is properly stiled frame- work-knitting because it is 
direct and absolute knitwork in the stitches thereof, nothing different 
therein from the common way of knitting (not much more anciently 
for public use practised in this nation than this) but only in the number 
of needles, at an instant working in this more than in the other by 
an hundred for one ; set in an engine or frame composed of above 
2000 pieces of smith's, joiner's, and turner's work ; after so artificial 
and exact a manner, that by the judgment of all beholders, it far 
excels in the ingenuity, curiosity, and subtilty of the invention and 
contexture, all other frames or instruments of manufacture in use in 
any known part of the world. 

"And for the skill requisite to the use and manage thereof it well 
deserves (without usurpation as some others impertinently have) the 
titles of mystery and art, by reason of the great difficulty of learning 
and length of time necessary to attain a dextrous habit of right true 
and exquisite workmanship therein, which has preserved it hitherto 
(from the hands of foreigners) peculiar to the English nation, from 
whence it has extraction growth and breeding, unto that perfection 
it hath now arrived at. Not only able to serve your Highnesses 
dominions with the commodities it mercantably works, but also the 
neighboring countries round about, where it has gained so good repute 
that the vent thereof is now more foreign than domestic ; and has 
drawn covetous eyes upon it, to undermine it here, and to transport 
it beyond the seas. Of whose swifter working to that pernicious end, 
these petitioners (as most interested) standing in the nearest fent, 
think themselves in the common duty of well affected persons to your 
Highness and their country (besides their own case of necessity) 
bcund to make address unto the wisdom protection and care of your 
Highness (as their predecessors in former times have done to the 
rulers of this nation) speedily to restrain and suppress all attempts 
to bring so great a detriment and inconveniency upon the Common- 
wealth." 

"Now so it is, and may it please your Highness, That the trade 
of frame- work-knitting was never known or practised here in England 
or any other place in the world before it was (about 50 years past) 
invented and found out by one William Lea (Lee) of Calverton in the 
County of Nottingham, gent., who by himself and such of his kindred 
and countrymen as he took unto him for servants, practised the same, 
many years, somewhat imperfectly in comparison of the exactness it 
is sithence brought into, by the endeavours of some of these petitioners. 
Yet even in the infancy thereof, it gained sufficient estimation of 
a business of so extraordinary a national profit and advantage, as to 
be invited over into France, upon allurements of great rewai'ds 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. G5 

privilege and honor ; not long before the sudden murder of the late 
French King Henry IV., unsuccessfully accepted by the said Mr. Lea 
(at that time wanting due encouragement at home) and transporting 
himself with nine workmen (his servants) with some friends into 
Roan (Eouen) there wrought to the great surprise of the French, so 
that the trade was in all likelihood to have been settled in that 
country for ever, had not the decease of the late King disappointed 
Mr. Lea of his expected grant of privilege, and the succeeding 
troubles of that kingdom delayed his renewed suit to that purpose, 
into discontentment and death at Paris, leaving his workmen at Koan 
to provide for themselves, seven of which returned back again into 
England with their frames, and here practised and improved their 
trade ; under whom (or the master workmen risen under them) most 
of these petitioners had their breeding and served their apprentice- 
ships. Of the other two which remained in France only one is yet 
surviving ; but so far short of the perfection of his trade (as it is used 
here) that of him, or what can be done by him or his means, these 
petitioners are in no apprehension of fear, nor have not been (since 
then) endangered in foreign countries, by any that have served out 
their full time of apprenticeship here. 

"But near about that time a Venetian ambassador gave 500 for a 
remnant of time of one Henry Mead, then an apprentice to this trade, and 
conveyed him with his frame from London to Venice, where although 
his work and the manner of it were awhile admired, and endeavoured 
to be imitated, yet as soon as necessity for reparation of his frame and 
instruments happened, for want of artificers experienced in such work 
there, and of ability in him to direct them, the work prospered not in 
his management ; so that (his bought time of service having expired) 
affection to his native country brought him home again to England. 
After his departure the Venetians grew disheartened, and impatient 
of making vain trials, they sent his disordered frame, and some of 
their own imitation to be sold in London at very low valuation. 

"And within very few years afterwards the trade was greatly en- 
dangered by one Abraham Jones, who having by underhand courses 
and insinuations (and not by servitude, &c. as an apprentice) gotten 
both the skilful mystery and practice thereof, did (contrary to the 
articles, which the rest of the company that had taken some jealous 
notice of him) pass himself with some more unto Amsterdam, and 
there taking unto him some Dutch, as servants, erected frames and 
wrought for the space of two or three years, until the infliction of the 
plague seized on him and his whole family and carried them all to 
the grave. His frames also (as things unprofitable to them, that 
could not find out their right use without an able teacher) were sent 
to London for sale at light rates. 

" These preservations and escapes of this trade from transplantation 
into foreign countries, these petitioners do with thankfulness acknow- 
ledge and ascribe to have been brought to pass by the Divine Providence, 
limiting his bounties and administration whither he has been pleased 
to direct them. For it may well seem marvellous in human judgment 
how otherwise this trade should remain (notwithstanding all the 
covetous and envious attempts to the contrary practised for the space 
of forty years past) an art peculiar to only this our nation ; and to 
the nimble spirits of the French, the fertile wits of the Italian, and 



06 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTEE. 

the industrious inclination of the Dutch, a concealed mystery unto 
this day." 

The memorial proceeds to state that the manufacture 
of silk hose raises the value of the raw material six 
parts in seven, inverting the old proverb, "the stranger 
buys of the Englishman the case of the goose for a groat 
and sells him its tail for a shilling;" it may now be 
said, "the Englishman buys silk of the stranger for 
twenty marks, and sells it him again for an hundred 
pounds." Other paragraphs set forth the hands this 
trade indirectly employs, and assert the greater ability 
of the English to supply home demand and foreigners 
with stockings, calceons, waistcoats and many other 
things than they can be supplied elsewhere, and describe 
it as "an inexhaustible mine of rich and staple com- 
modities wrought by this manufacture for the service of 
all the great, honourable, and better sort of the inhabitants 
of the whole commerciable world." They argue finally, 
that the objection against a machine which so greatly 
exceeds in its power of production that of knitting by 
hand, that it would seriously injure public interests by 
superseding that employment, is unsound, and they cite 
the case of pin-making by hand superseded by machinery 
and printing superseding copying by hand for all public 
and general purposes. 

This petition seems to have accompanied a short 
written one, a copy of which is preserved in the state 
paper office, and in one part of it the petitioners pray 
"that His Highness will graciously cast his eye on the 
printed representation annexed." But there is no 
trace of any other representation than the above long 
petition, given entire by Deering, and a copy of which 
without names or date is in state paper office F. p. 277. 
At p. 279 is a copy of the order of reference 27th 
December, 1655, to the committee for trade; p. 281 to 
284, is a report of the Lord Mayor and court of 
aldermen to the committee for trade as to the justice of 
the claims, &c. and confirming the statements of the 
petition of 23rd October, 1655; at p. 285 is the report of 
the committee for trade recommending (and proposing 
the scheme of) incorporation: thisissigned "W. Wheeler," 
and dated "13th April, 1656. 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. G7 

Down to a very recent date this petition has been 
generally supposed to have remained unnoticed by 
Cromwell, and therefore that no charter was granted 
by him. Deering expresses this view, " For what reason 
I cannot tell they did not obtain it at that time." 
Blackner says Cromwell did not refuse ; but Gardner, 
Music and Friends in 1835, says expressly that Cromwell 
granted them a charter. In this he stated the real fact. 
On this point the result of the researches of Mr. Wood- 
croft, made a few years ago, leaves no doubt. A copy 
of the letters patent of Oliver Cromwell, dated 13th 
June, 1657, incorporating the company of frame-work- 
knitters, and the act of the common council in that year 
regulating the binding of apprentices to members of 
that company passed in the same year 1657, were found 
deposited in the office of the town clerk of London. 
The charter contains the words "it being an English 
invention." It was enrolled in the city archives 13th 
July, 1657. Its tenor was referred to in a further 
petition dated 3rd December, 1658, from the frame-work- 
knitters of London, which asked for measures to prevent 
the export of frames. It was accompanied by an 
affidavit of two citizens, "that thirty to forty frames 
were about to be exported." An order in council was 
granted 14th June, 1659, forbidding the exportation of 
any frames and engines for knit- workers of silk stockings, 
and a third petition prayed for frames seized to be brought 
into the custom-house, London. The last has no date. 

During the short interval which elapsed after the 
grant of the letters patent by the Protector, and the 
accession of Charles II., when all his acts were set aside, 
the company now established legally does not seem to 
have exercised any authority over the trade calling for 
notice ; 400 out of the 650 frames then in England (a 
good many having been exported) were in London, 
chiefly in St. Luke's, Norton Folgate, and Shoreditch, 
of which three-fifths were employed on silk work, 
stockings, waistcoat-pieces in colours, trowser-pieces, 
striped and of stout ingrain dyed materials. Frames as 
yet had no sleys to steady the jacks, nor caster backs, 
but in 1670, Needham, a workman in London, placed two 
additional trucks on the sole bar. The needles had 

F2 



68 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

before been soldered into brass, but were now cast in 
lead; the combs were formerly wedged in with counters 
and were very broad, the jacks long and heavy, and they 
still used treddles to move the sinkers : these were now 
all improved. In 1711 the caster back and hanging- 
bits were added by Hardy, also a London frame-work- 
knitter. Since then no improvements of the power or 
speed of the machine have been effected until the present 
century. 

After Cromwell's death, the company lost no time in 
applying for a new charter, and obtained it. An abstract 
of the frame-work-knitters' charter, then granted, will 
shew the powers on which they acted for the next 
hundred years: it is from G. Henson's unfinished 
History of the Trade , p. 79 : 

" 1. I, Charles (2d.), by the Grace of God, &c. having taken into 
consideration the petition of the frame-work-knitters of London, West- 
minster, England, and Wales, seeing that many deceits and abuses 
are made, to the ruin of their families by strangers and others, think 
it necessary to uphold the trade, for the general benefit of my sub- 
jects, as well as the frame-work-knitters, and as the frame- work- 
knitters are dispersed among other trade companies in London, and 
have not proper government for the management of their own. 

" 2. Being desirous of encouraging the manufacture, all persons 
having served seven years apprenticeship, and apprentices who shall 
hereafter serve seven years, and all others who may be admitted as 
follows, shall be one fellowship and body corporate and politic, by the 
name of master, wardens, assistants and society of the art and mystery 
of Frame- Work-Knitters of the kingdom of England and dominion 
of Wales ; and shall have power to govern the said trade in the said 
kingdom, as herein directed ; and they shall have in that name per- 
petual succession. 

"3. The society shall have full right in that name to hold any 
property not exceeding 100 yearly. 

" 4. And shall have power in that name to sue and be sued at law. 

"5. The said society shall have a common seal, which they may 
alter at their pleasure. 

"6. The society or company shall consist of one master, two 
wardens, and fifteen or more assistants. 

" 7. John Croson shall be the first master, and shall continue in 
office until the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June) 1664, upon 
taking the oath before a Master in Chancery, and the master shall be 
chosen annually from the two wardens. 

" 8. Jonathan Gramer and George Balderston shall be the first 
wardens ; who shall continue in office till St. John's day, when the 
wardens shall be chosen annually from the assistants. 

"9. John Lee, Thomas Phillips, Joseph Tomlinson, Richard Read, 
William Rigson, William Gramer, Gabriel Brewer, Samuel Knight, 
Francis East, J. Fagiter, jun., Samuel Tomon, Owen Lavender, John 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 



C9 



Bennett, jun., F. Armstead, Thos. Stevenson, George Massie, 
Osmond Smith, "Win. Pickerne, and Thomas Ladd, to be assistants 
for life. 

" 10. The wardens and assistants shall choose a master on the 
feast day of St. John the Baptist in room of John Croson, who shall 
continue one year. 

"11. The master, wardens, and assistants shall choose two 
wardens at the same feast to continue in office one year, but shall 
remain assistants when out of office. 

"12. The master or wardens dying, there shall be a new election 
within fifteen days. 

"13. Upon the death of an assistant, the master, wardens, and 
assistants shall supply the vacancy from the society. 

"14. Any person of the society who shall be so nominated and 
refuse to serve shall be fined any sum not exceeding ten pounds, to 
be enforced by distress and sale of his goods. 

"15. The society shall appoint a clerk of the company. 

" 16. John Hennis, gent., shall be clerk for life, all other clerks 
after his decease may be removed at the pleasure of the company. 

"17. The master, wardens, and assistants, may make such laws 
and regulations as they think proper, for the government of the society, 
for the reformation of abuses, or preventing fraudulent work ; and may 
inflict and levy fines by distress and sale or otherwise. 

"18. Such laws, ordinances, &c. not to be repugnant to the laws 
of the realm, nor prejudicial to the customs of the City of London. 

" 19. The master, wardens, and assistants, shall choose a beadle; 
but Wm. Patrick shall be the first beadle, to serve only during 
pleasure, under the seal of the company; and shall have power to 
levy all fines by distress or otherwise. 

"20. All mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, constables, and officers, are 
commanded to assist the company according to the laws of the realm. 

"21. The master, wardens, and assistants, shall from time to 
time, appoint two deputies from the society, under their common seal, 
to search in the day time, in the presence of a constable, any place, 
whether privileged or not, to try and prove whether all stockings or 
frame-work-knitted goods, be workmen-like wrought, and if found 
badly made, or of deceitful stuff, to cut the same in pieces ; and to 
fine the parties making them, according to the bye-laws of the 
company. 

"22. The master and wardens shall administer an oath to the 
deputies, that they will rightfully and faithfully perform their office 
as searchers. 

"23. Such deputies shall be chosen yearly or oftener; and may 
be removed on just cause. 

" 24. The invention being purely English (natural born subjects 
as well as aliens, having by secret means endeavoured to take the art 
to foreign states, to the discouraging of the industrious subjects) no 
person, whether freeman or foreigner, denizen or alien, shall presume 
to carry or cause to be carried, any frames used for making silk 
stockings, or used in frame-work-knitting, beyond the seas, upon any 
pretence whatever. 

" 25. The master, warden, assistants or deputies, or any two of 
them, may seize such frames going to be exported, and may deposit the 



70 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTEE. 

same in the custody of a lawful officer, until due proof be made thereof 
before a justice of the peace, when it shall be forfeited ; such con- 
viction and judgment shall be within forty days, if within twenty 
miles from London ; and six months, if further distant. 

"26. One half the value of such forfeiture shall go to the com- 
pany, the other to the exchequer. 

" 27. The master, wardens, &c. may search for fraudulent frames, 
fraudulent machines, and fraudulent goods. 

"28. No person shall follow or use the trade of frame-work- 
knitting, unless they shall have served seven years apprenticeship, 
according to the custom of London. 

"29. Every person using the art of frame- work-knitting within 
twenty miles of London, must enter the society in three months ; and 
beyond twenty miles in six months ; and take the necessary _ oaths, 
or forfeit 5 for every week they may neglect. 

" 30. Persons who are freemen of the City of London, or of any 
other company, are commanded to bind their children who are frame- 
work-knitters, to the members of the frame-work-knitters' company. 

"31. The Lord Mayor of London is commanded to enrol this 
charter in the records of the common chamber of London, that they 
may become freemen. 

"32. The master, wardens, and assistants may receive any person 
they think fit, upon taking the oaths, into their body. 

"33. The master shall enforce the statute of the 5th Elizabeth, 
or any other statute as respects apprentices, and the occupations of 
the trade. 

"34. The master, wardens, and assistants may appoint deputies 
in the districts where the manufacture is carried on, who shall have 
the same powers in their districts, as to the enforcing the bye-la wa 
and statutes. 

"35. Such deputies shall report under their hand and seal, an 
account of all their transactions as to money, &c. from time to time, to 
the company, and must render an account and pay the money yearly. 

"36. The society shall pay yearly to the Exchequer four nobles, 
on the feast of our Lord God (25th December) ; and if not paid in 
forty days, shall forfeit 20s. 

"37. All justices, custom-house officers, &c. are required to assist 
the company. 

"38. This charter shall be taken in all courts of record, and con- 
strued most largely. 

" 39. The master, wardens, &c. must take the oath of allegiance. 

" 40. If the master, wardens, and assistants do not enrol this said 
charter before the clerk of the peace within six months, they shall 
forfeit 10, and so for every six month's default. 

"By the King, 

"HOWARD. 
"Fine twenty marks. 
"Signed 19th August (1663) 

"in the 15th year of the King." 

The body of frame-work-knitters never cordially 
acquiesced in the provisions of this charter. Nor was 
this at all surprising. Here twenty -four persons caused 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 



71 



themselves to be appointed for life, with power to name 
their successors; to make laws and enforce them by 
fines ; to levy fees, and to dispose of fines and fees at 
their pleasure. And which was the most objectionable 
clause of all causing in the end the limitation of their 
authority and influence within the narrow bounds of a 
London nominal hosiery trade company they were 
empowered to choose their members from the body of 
citizens, whether frame- work-knitters or not. A corpo- 
ration so composed, could neither sympathise duly with, 
nor long exercise authority over bodies of workmen 
dwelling in distant parts of the kingdom. 

An adverse feeling to the company shewed itself in 
London, and still more in the country. The disputes 
continued as to the number of apprentices that might 
be taken. The Act, 5th of Elizabeth, was construed by 
country masters and magistrates not to include frame- 
work-knitters as weavers. The number of frames had 
increased in London, in 1695, to 1500: notwithstanding 
many having been sent over to Ireland, to which 
country the charter did not extend ; and was, therefore, 
resorted to by those stocking-makers who were anxious 
to employ an unlimited number of apprentices. But 
Tyrconnel, the viceroy under James II., granted, in 
1686-7, a charter embodying larger powers than the 
English one. The application for this was made at the 
instance of the London company, in order to strengthen 
their own position. 

More than 400 frames had also been exported be- 
tween 1670 and 1695, in spite of the company's efforts ; 
amongst other places, to Paris, Orleans, Rennes, and 
Caen ; Louvain, Tournay, and Valenciennes ; Cordova, 
Seville, and Cadiz ; Rome and Messina. The 7th and 
8th of William III. fined persons 10 for removing 
frames without notice. All were ordered to be num- 
bered; and if missing, or unaccounted for, the parties 
were exchequered. This legislation immediately caused 
the practice of exporting frames to cease. 

The low price of admission to the freedom of the 
company, and its indiscriminate character, letting in 
persons merely desirous of the municipal and parlia- 
mentary vote, or of obtaining a position in the Guild, 



72 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

produced in the first forty years of the operation of the 
charter, a marked change in the members constituting 
the Hall. The income was large from registration of 
apprentices, enrolling freemen, fines levied, and pre- 
miums on the sale of freedoms and livery. So, as they 
could hold only 100 a year, the company fell into 
expensive pomp and pageantries. A carriage for the 
master, gold lace liveries for beadles and attendants, 
a gilded barge, a large band of musicians, flags em- 
blazoned with their arms, and finally, a new Hall 
erected in Redcross Street, in which to hold their, courts 
and feast sumptuously, absorbed more than their income, 
and in time brought the company into debt. The fees 
levied to support this expenditure were enormous ; and 
had the effect of rapidly increasing the business in the 
midland district, by sending the trade thither. 

Of the frames built in Queen Anne's reign the prin- 
cipal parts of many still exist. They attest that the 
smiths had then arrived at great excellence in their art. 
Worsted hose were made of three, four, and five thread 
yarn, and in turned shapes, narrowed clocks and fancies. 
They produced also worsted breeches-pieces, and webs 
for waistcoats of varied colours and stripes. Gore 
clocks were silk hose with heels six or seven inches 
long; and by which the instep was made an inch 
narrower than in plain. The labour in making them 
was much increased; as also in making turned shapes 
and parti-coloured hose ; all which kinds were for a long 
time fashionable. Very heavy plain and embroidered 
silk hose were much w r orn. The workmen gained on 
plain, 2s. 6d. to 3s. Qd. a day; and on embroidered, 
3s. 6d. to 5s. a day. The average of the hands only 
worked about four days a week, as meat was l^d. per 
pound, and bread I4d. a stone. The earnings through- 
out the trade were computed to average 10s. a week 
in the country, and 15s. in London. The number of 
frames in 1727 was 2,500 in the metropolis, and 5,500 
in the provinces. In consequence of the expensive wars 
in Anne's reign, trade became inactive, and many 
stocking-makers were, for a time, unemployed. This 
season of privation naturally caused the journeymen, 
as well as the masters who adhered to the company's 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHAETER. 73 

bye-law of taking not more than three apprentices to 
one journeyman, to turn their attention to the unlimited 
number of apprentices now taken ten or more to one 
journeyman. The company, upon an application made 
to them about 1710 to repress this practice, had declined 
to act ; on which occasion, one Nicholson's frames were 
broken in London. The circumstance will be noticed 
when Luddist feats are subsequently described. One 
of the apprentices of that epoch, Hardy, was not only 
the inventor of the ' caster back' and ' hanging bit' 
during his apprenticeship, but was the first workman 
who "met the presser and passed over the arch at the 
same time." This he did while under age. 

Upon this destruction of machines, two masters who 
infringed, Cartwright and Fellows, took their frames 
away from London to Nottingham ; the former having 
twenty-three, and the latter forty-nine apprentices. 

It was resolved at a general court of the company, 
held on the 7th of June, 1720, that as the renter 
warden had at that time 10,000 in his hands ; and as 
it was expedient to remedy the evils arising from under- 
selling of goods made by non-apprenticed hands in 
the country, a company should be formed to carry on 
the trade and defy all competition. A capital of two 
millions sterling was to be raised, in shares of 1000 
to 10,000 from each subscriber, 25s. to be paid for 
each 1000 to reimburse charges. " Each of the 
eighteen assistants was to have his name put down for 
1000, for which he was to pay nothing." Shortly 
after, they resolved that " all the undivided stock should 
be divided amongst the projectors without their paying 
deposits ; and for which stock they should have receipts 
given in such names as they should nominate." Of the 
first 1800 received for shares, Pocklington, who pro- 
jected the scheme, received two hundred guineas "for 
his invention and trouble," and warden Austin ten 
guineas "for his extraordinary trouble." Cash was 
advanced for goods received from any assistant. The 
seal of the company was affixed to these proceedings, 
by which, stocks in the hands of the members of the 
company were so much lightened, that wages rose in 
London, and at Godalming, Oldham, &c. For a time 



74 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

bonds for 1000, on which 12. 10s. had been paid, sold 
for 15. 15. Before long the question of legality was 
raised ; and counsel advised that the chartered com- 
pany required an Act of Parliament to enable them to 
trade as a Joint Stock Company. They nevertheless 
continued to do so for ten years. In 1730 the making 
of goods was discontinued by them. The accounts were 
audited, and the affair was ended by resolving "that 
the two million joint stock fund was attempted to be 
raised for the good of the chartered company, and that 
the balance remaining in the hands of the prime warden 
should, in future, belong to the company." 

The 10,000 fund was expended in this manufacturing 
scheme, and the company became so impoverished, as 
to be obliged to borrow even the small sum of 50 on 
bond. Several such transactions are on record, as 
having occurred during the next half century, in some 
of which the plate and pictures of the society were 
transferred, at least for a time, as security. 

To replenish their funds was no doubt a very press- 
ing motive for the desire manifested to establish more 
firmly the power of the company in the country, and 
for this end, to put in force a duly authorised code of 
bye-laws. 

Another important consideration impelled them to 
activity. The Chartered Company had for some time 
perceived that the trade had declined in London, and in 
consequence had held quarterly courts by their deputies ; 
visiting Nottingham and other places for the purpose 
of admitting apprentices, levying fines, and admitting 
to the freedom of the company. At Nottingham, this 
court sat at the Feathers tavern ; and at this time was 
instructed to put into strict operation the bye-laws and 
authority of the company ; so as to put a stop to this 
tendency of the business to emigrate from London, if 
possible, and at all events, keep up the income of the 
company. The deputies therefore proceeded to levy a 
fine of 400 on Fellows, and one of 150 on Cartwright. 
These persons refused to pay any fines, when, as autho- 
rised by their bye-laws, their goods and frames were 
sold by the deputies and beadles of the company. 

The justices and gentry generally of the midland 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 75 

district had observed with disquietude, that the inten- 
tion was to effect a two-fold and serious evil ; to prevent 
the growth of the country manufacture, and so far as 
possible restore and confine it to London ; and further, 
to withdraw a very large annual income from these 
parts. They very unwillingly convicted on these com- 
plaints, and were well satisfied when an action was 
brought for trespass by Cartwright, against the officers 
of the company, which was tried at Nottingham in 1728. 
It was then found, that the bye-laws had not received 
the assent of the chancellor or judges ; as, to prevent 
the abuse by chartered corporations and companies of 
their powers, their bye-laws were required to be, by the 
19th Henry VII. It was moreover urged, that the 
charter gave the company a legislative power, incon- 
sistent with the constitution. The company said they 
acted on the 5th Elizabeth. To this it was replied, 
that frame-work-knitters were neither ' cloth workers,' 
nor ( weavers.' It was then contended that they were 
1 hosiers,' which brought them within the statute. To 
this it was rejoined, that frame-work-knitting was not a 
trade at the time of passing the 5th Elizabeth. After 
a long trial, a verdict was given for Cartwright. The 
effect of this trial was, for a time, to render the opera- 
tions of the company nugatory outside of the twenty 
miles round London, and practically to restrict it to 
the city. 

All power of interfering with the operations of the coun- 
ty masters being withdrawn, the number of apprentices 
became larger than ever. As an instance of the tempta- 
tion to excess, by parishes offering 5 with each thus 
taken off their hands, and the under prices at which 
their work was performed ; one man having a shop of 
frames in Brewhouse-yard, just outside the Borough 
jurisdiction of Nottingham, always had a staff of twenty- 
five apprentices, more or less, and never employed a 
journeyman for more than thirty years. 

Another cause for an increase of the business in the 
country, at the expense of London stocking-makers, was 
a change in fashion. Gay colours and fancy patterns 
were gradually disused, and the merchants and hosiers 
in London began to find that they could obtain good 



76 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

work at less prices in the country. Therefore they 
sent their orders for plain articles, more and more to 
Leicester and Nottingham; so that by 1750, there had 
been a diminution of frames in London to 1000, and 
in Surrey to 350 ; 800 having been sent down to 
Nottingham, and nearly as many to Leicester, and sold 
at a low price. The number in the former place had 
become 1500, 1000 in Leicester, and in Derby 200 ; 
elsewhere in the midland counties 7300 ; in other English 
and Scotch towns 1850, and in Ireland 800 ; total, 
14,000. 

It is to be remarked, that the first pair of cotton hose 
from yarn spun in India, four threads being used for 
the legs, and five for the heels, had been made in 1730 
from a 20-gauge silk-frame in Nottingham. At first, the 
yarn spun from cotton wool was not of suitable quality 
for use in the hosiery frame ; it was harsh, and two 
highly twisted to bend easily in forming loops. In 
proportion as its use grew to be important, from the 
greater magnitude of this trade, efforts were put forth 
with success, to make the exact article required. 

The company shewed occasional signs of animation, 
by endeavouring to retain and exercise control over the 
operations of the country master stockingers. In 1734, 
they tried to enforce their claims to authority, and 
threatened legal proceedings ; but the known invalidity 
of their bye-laws strengthened resistance, and deterred 
the company, for the present, from further attempts to 
sustain them ; but decided them rather to construct 
carefully a new code, and to obtain for it the proper 
legal sanction. 

They carried out this determination; and in 1745, 
the company made a new set of bye-laws, to which 
the signature of the chancellor was obtained ; but 
which, in 1753, had the effect of entirely upsetting 
their authority to regulate the trade. They were as 
follows, viz. : 

"1. The court of assistants shall yearly, on Midsummer day, 
choose out of the assistants, one master and two wardens. 

" 2. And at the same time choose three persons to audit the master 
and wardens' accounts. 

" 3. And may choose others to fill the office of master and wardens 
on their dying or being displaced within the year. 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 77 

" 4. The master and wardens shall, within one week, be sworn 
into their offices. 

" 5. The court shall as often as they think fit, admit such, members 
as are free of the city and of the livery, to be assistants ; upon refusing 
to serve, to forfeit 10. 

"6. And may admit into the livery, so many of the members of 
the company as they may think fit, and every person so admitted re- 
fusing to come into the clothing (unless shewing reasonable excuse 
before the Lord Mayor or one of the aldermen) to forfeit 20. 

" 7. The court may elect two or more members to be their de- 
puties, to rule and govern all persons exercising the trade of frame- 
work-knitting, according to the powers of the charter, within suck 
district as may be assigned them apart from their habitations. 

"8. The court may elect yearly, on the second Tuesday in April, 
two members as stewards, within forty miles of London, who shall 
provide a dinner on Midsummer day, for the master, wardens, and 
assistants, at their own charge, or forfeit 6 ; such dinner not to ex- 
ceed the value of 12. 

"9. The court may elect three members to be stewards, on Lord 
Mayor's day, who shall provide a dinner of the value of 21, accord- 
ing to a bill of fare to be presented to them, or shall pay their share 
of 7, or be fined 10. No person to be chosen steward who has 
served the office before. 

"10. The court may choose a clerk. 

"11. The court may choose a person, being a member, to be their 
clerk. 

"12. The company shall have a chest with three locks for the 
custody of their treasure ; the keys of which shall be kept by the 
master and two wardens. 

"13. Four quarterly courts shall be held every year, for every 
member that will attend, to hear the ordinances read. The court of 
assistants shall attend, as often as required by the master and wardens, 
to transact the business of the company. Every member neglecting to 
appear, to forfeit for the first offence Is., the second 2s., and for every 
other default 5s. 

"14. It shall be lawful for the master and wardens, or any two 
of them, with two or more assistants, and also for their sworn de- 
puties, four times in every year or oftener, in the presence of a con- 
stable, to enter into shops, &c. to view, search, and prove all frame- 
work-knitted goods, frames, &c. ; and if found defective, to seize the 
same, and produce them at their hall of meeting on their next court 
day ; to be fined at the discretion of the court, not exceeding 1 Os. 
Every person obstructing the master, &c. to be fined 5. The master 
on searching any house may demand 4d. ', any person refusing to pay, 
to forfeit 3s. 4d. 

"15. No member to hire frames, but of such as are members, on 
pain of paying Is. per week for every frame. 

" 16. No member shall teach and instruct any person in the art 
of frame-work-knitting, other than his male child, or children, or 
apprentices, unless bound according to the ordinances of the company, 
upon forfeiture of 50 for every offence. 

" 17. No member shall retain an apprentice until, for trial of hia 
skill, he shall have wrought in the presence of the master and wardens, 



78 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

or some persons appointed by them, a pair of silk stockings, and upon 
finishing thereof, if approved, he shall be allowed as a work-house 
keeper, upon pain of forfeiting 5. 

"18. No person shall exercise the trade of frame- work-knitting, 
unless he shall have served seven years' apprenticeship, and shall first 
be admitted a member of the company ; and neglecting to be a mem- 
ber for three months, to forfeit 30s. for every neglect. 

"19. No person shall employ an alien or foreigner, under penalty 
of 10 for every offence. 

" 20. Every member residing within forty miles of London, who 
shall be minded to take an apprentice, shall present him within one 
month at the hall ; or, if at a greater distance, to the deputies, to be 
bound by the clerk of the company, on pain of forfeiting 40s. Any 
member, free of the City of London, who shall cause an intended 
apprentice to be bound to a freeman of any other company, shall 
forfeit 5. 

"21. No member shall turn over his apprentice, without license 
of the master and wardens, on pain of forfeiting 40s. for every 
offence. 

"22. No journeyman shall depart his service, without a month's 
warning, except for non-payment of wages, or by mutual agreement ; 
and no master shall turn away such journeyman, without the like 
warning, and paying him what shall be due to him, under a penalty 
of 5. 

"23. No journeyman shall work with any, but such as are mem- 
bers of the company, under a penalty of 20s. 

"24. No master shall set any person on work but such as are 
members, except his male children or apprentices, under a penalty 
of 5. 

"25. The master and wardens within forty days after quitting 
office, to bring in their accounts to the auditors. 

" 26. The master and wardens, or any person appointed by them, 
shall receive of every member using the trade as a master, 6d. per 
quarter ; and from every journeyman ?>d. per quarter. Every member 
refusing to pay the same when demanded, to forfeit 6s. 8d. 

"27. Every member shall contribute proportionably to the neces- 
sary expences of the company, upon pain of paying double what he 
shall be rated at for that purpose. 

" 28. Every member free of the City of London, who shall neglect 
to enrol his apprentice before the chamberlain, within one year after 
the binding, shall pay 20s. 

"29. Widows, on being admitted members, may exercise the 
trade during widowhood. 

" 30. The court of assistants may moderate, or wholly remit, any 
penalties, provided such persons pay such sum, without suit at law. 

"31. All fines and penalties to be sued for in the name of the 
company, by action of debt, in any of His Majesty's Courts of 
Record. 

" The following are fees paid to the company : 
"Admittance 10s., clerk 2s., beadle Is., stamp 2s., total 15s. 

"Apprentice bound 3s., stamp 3s., clerk 2s., beadle Is., total 9s. 
" Work-house keeper's proof piece 3s., clerk 2s., beadle Is., total 6s. 
"Apprentice turned over, 3s. 6tf." 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 79 

The new bye-laws being duly legalized, the wardens, 
clerk, a full court of assistants, and beadle, came to 
Nottingham, and placed them before a large meeting 
which they had convened of the trade. After much 
discussion, a determination was come to, not to submit to 
them by the masters, and by the court to enforce them 
by law. 

Petitions were in consequence sent to parliament 
from several parts, complaining of the arbitrary nature 
of these regulations. That from Nottingham complained : 

" That certain of them were against all reason, and contrary to 
the general liberty of the subject, by the company levying taxes, to 
assist them in extending their jurisdiction all over the kingdom, with 
power to search premises of the frame- work-knitters ; monopolizing 
the lending of frames for hire ; and thus prejudicially affecting and 
oppressing the trade." 

The petition from Godalming added : 

" That if submitted to, the result would be, the decay of the manu- 
facture, and to bring greater burdens on parishes." 

These petitions contained the first direct reference to 
the practice now beginning, of letting out frames for hire, 
by owners of them not in the trade, and on which the 
fifteenth bye-law has a pointed bearing. This charge 
on the men was strenuously resisted for years afterwards, 
on the ground which has been taken ever since by 
its opponents, that it encouraged persons out of the 
trade to purchase frames, or cause them to be built, not 
because they were needed for the requisite supply of 
goods, but solely for the income to be derived from them 
as rent; and thus, by inevitable competition, overload 
the business with both machinery and hands to work it. 

In connection with the extraordinary influx of 
apprentices into the business, another practice was 
introduced about this time which, by the mode in which 
it was carried into effect, has had a most pernicious 
influence on the character of a large part of the work- 
people, and as a necessary consequence, upon that of the 
trade. The apprentice was allowed so long a time to 
learn to work the stocking-frame, usually three to six 
months. As he grew in age, and required more susten- 
ance, he had a certain stint, so many pairs of hose 
to make as his week's work, and all he earned beyond 



80 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

was his own. This in itself was just and wise, 
both to himself a stimulus, and a remuneration for his 
board, &c. to his master. But he has for ages been 
allowed to work it very much when, and as he pleased, 
and he became too often the u shacking lounging 
stockinger." 

To return. In consequence of the rigour with which 
the company did enforce them, the bye-laws being 
petitioned against, were referred with counter-petition of 
the company, to a select committee of the house of 
commons, who having possessed themselves of the books 
and papers of the company, and heard the complaints 
of the petitioners and other evidence, as also the replies 
of the company and their supporters, in defence of their 
proceedings, resolved, on the 13th of April, 1753, to report 
as follows : 

"1st. That it is the opinion of this Committee, that the several 
persons employed in frame-work-knitting in the town of Nottingham, 
who have petitioned against the Company of Frame-Work-Knitters, 
have fully proved the allegations of their petition. 

"2nd. That the petitioners from Surrey have fully proved the 
allegations in their petition. 

'' 3rd. That it is the opinion of this Committee, that the bye-laws 
of the Company of Frame- Work-Knitters, incorporated by a charter, 
bearing date 19th August in the 15th year of the reign of Charles II., 
are injurious and vexatious to the manufacturers, and tend to the 
discouragement of industry, and to the decay of the said manufacture. 

" 4th. That it is the opinion of this Committee, that many of the 
said bye-laws are illegal, and contrary to the liberty of the subject. 

" 5th. That it is the opinion of this Committee, that the powers 
granted by the said charter are hurtful to the trade, and tend to a 
monopoly. 

" 6th. That it is the opinion of this Committee, that the carrying 
on vexatious prosecutions against any person, male or female, for 
exercising the art and mystery of frame-work-knitting, is hurtful to 
the manufacturer, and destructive to the trade of the kingdom." 

On 19th April, 1753, a committee of the whole house 
agreed to the third resolution against the bye-laws, as 
injurious and vexatious to manufacturers, and dis- 
couraging industry and trade. The consideration of 
the fourth was postponed, and the fifth and sixth were 
agreed to and confirmed by the house. The effect of 
this vote of the house of commons was to deprive the 
company of all hope of legally enforcing their authority. 
They therefore abandoned the suits they had commenced, 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 



81 



and from this time ceased to exercise any real authority 
over the trade at large, merely existing as a London 
chartered body. 

Throughout all these proceedings, legal and par- 
liamentary, the masters and country gentlemen opposed, 
while the journeymen supported the company. 

Trade corporations were for many ages very useful in 
fostering manufactures, and securing to those who em- 
barked skill and capital in them, their due reward. 
They also by combining in large masses the otherwise 
powerless individuals employed in each kind of labour, 
gave to such bodies the opportunity for offering a united, 
and therefore strong expression of opinion, and of pre- 
senting to feudal power and despotic governments, a bold 
front on any question affecting the rights or interests of 
the manufacturer or the citizen. In these respects they 
had their useful sphere of operation, becoming as it were 
standing chambers of commerce. But they did not in 
process of time confine themselves to this. The natural 
tendency of exclusive privilege was to inert monopoly 
and confined efforts. They were as jealous of innova- 
tion in their method of manufacture, as of the intrusion 
of unauthorized labour. Prices for work and goods 
were maintained at an unnatural height, that heavy 
imposts might be laid on initiated members, to be ex- 
pended on extravagance and shew. While, except under 
permission difficult to be obtained, a non-apprenticed 
person, one not regularly brought up to the trade, let 
his genius be ever so brilliant or his discoveries ever so 
important, might not practice his invention in it. 
Ingenious foreign inventors would naturally be subjected 
to still greater difficulties unless introduced under power- 
ful counter protection. 

One of the strongest arguments that has been brought 
forward at various times for the revived exercise of 
power to regulate the manufacture of hosiery under the 
privileges granted by this charter, as in 1778 and again 
in 1849, is that it would enable an effective guard to be 
maintained against spurious quality, whether in materials 
or work. But experience shews that almost the only laws 
which can be practically executed in trade are those 
directed against positive fraud. Even the 

G 



rights of the 



82 STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 

true inventor are difficult to ascertain, and often too 
expensive to be enforced. All restrictions, internal or 
external, upon the freedom of action in trade, must be 
very limited and exceptional in their operation to be 
beneficial or safe. 

At this epoch, 1740 to 1750, the wages for making 
the common kinds of worsted hose were reduced very 
low ; and many of the parish apprentices, ill manageu, 
ill taught, and little cared for, were reduced almost to 
starvation. Idle and dissipated habits were the con- 
sequence, and became the precursors of general deprecia- 
tion in the clothing and dwellings of the country frame- 
work-knitters. It is related "that there was often only 
one coat in a shop, which was worn by each in turn as 
he went out from its precincts ; so that one Moss, a 
Northamptonshire master, refused to employ a man 
possessed of a good coat, declaring the best workmen 
were only to be found in ragged ones." This was 
quickly followed by the production of inferior goods ; 
and to such an extent had the quality and use of 
English silk goods declined, and those made in France 
been imported, that Parliament in 1754 prohibited 
their introduction, avowedly because the balance of 
trade against us was become so large. For twenty 
years English workmen put l PARIS' in the welts, that 
they might pass in sale for French. 

The national rivalry was at length stirred up to 
such a point on this head, that frames of finer guages 
were constructed ; and specially to meet in a proposed 
friendly contest between the two countries, a 38-guage 
silk-frame was constructed ; one Joseph Stocks, the best 
workman in the English trade, being appointed to work 
it. Frequent examinations and consultations were held, 
that it might be kept in good working order. But, in 
the end, the London referees decided in favour of the 
French wrought hose. 

The Spaniards had made gloves at Cordova from the 
stocking-frame; also mitts were now first made there, and 
in these articles the English imitated them. The fingers 
were all made with extra inlaid threads, and had perfect 
selvages. The thumbs and gussets were formed sepa- 
rately. These articles were ornamented on the backs, 



STOCKING-WEAVING AND THE CHARTER. 83 

and had eyelet-hole open-work fingers, produced by 
removing stitches from one needle to another. Rose 
leaves and other fancy objects were introduced of such 
elaborate workmanship, that journeymen were often 
paid 5s. or 6s. a pair for making them. And some 
workmen could make two pairs in a day. 

In 1750, there were fifty manufacturers, employers 
of 1200 frames, called 'putters out,' in Nottingham, all 
trading directly with London; 1800 frames were also 
thus employed in Leicestershire on woollen hose. 



CHAPTER VI. 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. MR. JEDEDIAH STRUTT. 

THE manufactures of this country were still carried 
on in the middle of the last century at the homes of the 
work people usually, and in general on a very limited 
scale. Though the mercantile marine of England had 
been gradually extending its visits to distant shores from 
the time of Elizabeth, and returning with supplies of 
the products of foreign fields and looms and mines, yet 
in the main the demand for them was found amongst 
the upper and middle ranks of society. Very small 
stocks of wrought articles were kept any where except 
in cities and towns of note. The bulk of society relied 
for the supply of necessaries and even of things con- 
venient upon the labour of their own hands in their 
various crafts, and so getting what they needed by 
interchange with their neighbours. Travelling even in 
the busiest parts of England was still slow, along difficult 
roads, and often not safe ones ; therefore internal com- 
merce was as yet advanced but little beyond its infancy. 

Whether from the political freedom and security 
enjoyed during the previous half-century, which always 
stimulate where they are present the industry of those 
who by their benign influence enjoy a larger proportion 
of the results of their labours ; or whether from the greater 
expansion of mind and the direction of its powers to 
useful purposes amongst the middle classes, arising from 
the study of the literature of the previous century, 
added to more extended intercourse with the continent 
of Europe, there was an undoubted movement upwards 
in society. Many most important changes were about 
to be introduced and discoveries and inventions made 
known, which however accidental some might seem, and 
none of them perhaps directly traceable to any general 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 85 

3ause, yet could not but have resulted from vigorous 
thought and well conceived design themselves the 
symptoms of an improving age. 

Thus new sources of supply of cotton wool, then 
only recently introduced into our raw materials for 
clothing, were opened up, and improved methods were 
adopted in the growth of sheep's wool. New machinery 
to spin both was at hand. The more general substitu- 
tion of coal for wood as fuel soon followed. Fresh 
vigour with improved scientific resources were applied 
to our mines. Well formed roads managed by local 
turnpike trusts and canals excavated in every direction, 
gave new means of ready transit for materials and goods, 
while stage coaches and mails offered greater facilities for 
personal communication. When completed by the addi- 
tion of steam, since become an all pervading agent in 
aid of labour, the last half century may be truly said 
to have magnificently inaugurated a new manufacturing 
system, which has issued in the enlarged capital, com- 
merce, and enjoyment of the people generally. 

Symptoms of desire to emerge from the small scale 
on which all productions beyond those necessary for 
food were cultivated, and the homely manner in which 
manufactured articles were wrought and enjoyed, were 
early manifested in the midland district, arid on its 
northern borders in Lancashire and Yorkshire, where 
at that time the manufactures of cotton and woollen 
cloth were even more rudely carried on than that of 
hosiery in the counties of Leicester, Derby, and Notting- 
ham, and not to a much greater extent. Indeed the 
latter town co-operated in some important degree in the 
early arrangements, which issued in the greatest of our 
textile manufactures the cotton trade. 

This state of things was an introduction to that 
long train of ingenious efforts which begun now to 
be made, in order primarily to improve the demand 
for hosiery, by modifications in the methods and 
kinds of its productions. The local developement of 
inventive skill had some relation, there can be little 
doubt, to the spirit of enterprize rising into activity all 
around. Here as elsewhere it was without pretension 
in the beginning, but very marvellous and unlocked for 



86 THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 

in its results. The alterations and new constructions in 
hosiery and lace machinery had become before 1815 so 
numerous and intricate that Blackner, in his History, 
altogether declined the description of the then later 
important ones. Fifteen years after, Henson expressed 
his sense of the difficulty there is in giving numerous 
mechanical details, so as to be clear without becoming 
wearisome. Since his publication the duty has become 
doubly onerous. But the endeavour to compress will, it 
is hoped, be now so performed as to give the object of 
each new plan, and the mode of its accomplishment 
where necessary, with sufficient clearness, yet without 
drawing too largely upon the patience of the reader. 

The first step in this course will be to describe the 
modification in the use of Lee's frame by the ' tuck- 
presser,' and the subsequent independent addition to it 
of Strutt's Derby ribbing machine. 

No attempt, so far as is known from any existing 
record, had been made to add any machinery to the 
stocking-frame for the purpose of varying the face or 
appearance of the web it produced, until the earlier 
part of the eighteenth century. About the year 1740, 
an apparatus was applied to it for the production of a 
kind of fancy work in hose. By some this was said 
to be a French invention, alleging it to have been 
practised by Paris workmen under the direct inspec- 
tion of Louis XIV., who they affirmed took great 
pleasure in the operations of the stocking-frame, and 
even knew how to work in it. But though not im- 
possible, there does not seem to be any proof of this. 
Nor is it more certain that it was invented, as others 
said, in Dublin; though brought by an Irishman to 
Nottingham between 1740 and 1756. This addition to 
the stocking-frame was called a ' tuck presser.' A ' tuck' 
is the technical name for two or three loops accumulated 
on the same needle, in the process of making as many 
courses of loops by these not having passed regularly 
over the heads of the needles. To make such loops in 
regular lines or ribs down the hose, or in zigzag 
lozenges and other forms required, a second presser was 
needful to act in place of the ordinary one at the 
necessary intervals of courses, and on particular needles. 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 87 

This tuck pressor was a thin bar of iron attached to the 
frame presser, but so as to admit of its moving sideways 
to and fro, the space of one or more needles. Grooves 
were cut in its lower edge to admit the beards of 
needles under the grooves not receiving pressure, while 
others were pressed by the teeth, and their loops passed 
over the needle-heads, the non-pressed remaining behind 
until pressed over in the usual way. By using parti- 
coloured threads with this machine, not only would the 
looping be varied on the external face of the work, but 
a shaded variegated appearance was given to the stock- 
ings produced. This tuck presser has been applied 
since for other purposes. 

It will be observed that by using the bar just 
described, an alteration was made in the operation of 
some of the needles at the pleasure of the workman, 
and a consequent variety in the looped fabric effected. 
This was a step in the right direction, and might have 
some effect in stimulating still further the attempts 
which had been made for some time by Roper, Bowman, 
and others, under great difficulties, to produce by 
machinery the ribbed hose, which the hand-knitters 
had long produced by reversing the formation of the 
stitches in straight lines and of various widths down 
the length of the hose. So great was the desire for 
the fine ribbed stockings that, previous to their being 
mechanically made, some which were made plain on 
the frame were ribbed by hand, the stitching allowed to 
run down through the length of the stocking, and then 
was looped up the reverse way by using a turning hook. 
One Wright, a frame-work-knitter of llkeston, is said to 
have thus hand-ribbed a pair of machine wrought hose, 
and sold them to a manufacturer for half-a-guinea no 
great remuneration for so much labour. 

The attempts to mechanically reverse the loops of the 
stocking-web, though unsuccessful, were much spoken 
of in the trade, particularly on the borders of Notting- 
hamshire and Derbyshire. Probably those of a frame- 
work-knitter or setter up, named Eoper, living at Locko 
in that district, being somewhat notorious, were most 
prominently put forwards. He was a vain person, fond 
of company, amongst whom he was of self-indulgent 



88 THE DEKBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 

habits and apt to speak in high terms of his mechanical 
doings. 

Mr. William Woollett was at that time, 1750, a 
hosier in Derby. His attention was directed to the 
question of how these ribbed hose could be made ; and 
he brought it under the special notice of his brother- 
in-law, Mr. Jedediah Strutt, who, though an agricul- 
turist had, he knew, been from his youth engaged 
in mechanical pursuits as an occupation of his mind 
and hands during leisure time. The reference thus 
made proved to be a most happy and successful 
one. The important results could not have been at first 
anticipated, nor even during the lifetime of Mr. Strutt 
were they fully understood. But they have been such 
as to have given him a just prominence amongst the 
inventors of that age, and to require the more extended 
personal account about to be given. The very simpli- 
city of the plan he devised, and of the mode of its 
application to the machine of Lee, 170 years after its 
invention, added to the fact that no historian of the 
trade wrote during the next fifty years, preclude any 
minute detail of the obstacles he encountered. Such 
an account would be very interesting if it had been 
forthcoming. Great difficulties there must have been ; 
for the constructive powers of mechanics in the stocking 
trade had not, a hundred years ago, been employed as 
they have been since ; mainly as the effect of this effort 
of Strutt's genius. 

Mr. Jedediah Strutt was the second son of Mr. Wm. 
Strutt, who, in the early part of the 18th century, was 
resident at South Normanton, near Alfreton, in Derby- 
shire ; and also in the neighbouring parish of Blackwell, 
where he occupied lands as his ancestors had done for 
several generations, and where Jedediah was born in 
1729. One branch of the family had occupied Newton 
Hall; another the old manor house near Blackwell church. 
He with his elder brother, Joseph, and younger brother 
William, received such an education as a country school 
of the better class could supply. Their father was chiefly 
anxious that they should obtain a sound practical know- 
ledge of agriculture, in which pursuit they were 
engaged in their youth. Certainly the scholastic studies 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 89 

of this, the most talented of the three brothers, seem to 
have been but slight preparatives for the mechanical 
skill and commercial position Jedediah Strutt eventually 
attained. Though unthought of by his father, it was 
through manufactures by machines to be studied and 
improved, and by the anxieties and hazards of trade and 
not by the more tranquil occupations of tilling and reap- 
ing the products of the soil, that his son was to lay the broad 
foundations on which have rested a superstructure .of 
wealth, and honours, and fame. Jedediah Strutt inheri- 
ted his father's tenacity of purpose and firmness of 
resolution. In everything else his mind, receiving but 
little external aid, took its own direction. He had an 
insatiable desire for the attainment of knowledge, and 
acquired for himself the elements of his intellectual 
character, becoming in thought, memory, and observa- 
tion, a self-taught man. His thoughts took an eminently 
practical turn. While employing himself in the cultiva- 
tion of the farm, his leisure was taken up with mechanical 
studies. When a boy he had constructed small mills 
to turn in the adjacent brook. Now he employed him- 
self in improving a plough, or in discovering methods 
of subjecting the lever and the wheel to any motive 
power, to effect operations suggested by his fancy, or 
promising usefulness in their application. He seems to 
have acquired considerable knowledge of literature and 
science, though the district in which he lived presented 
few advantages for these enquiries. Such as there were, 
he diligently improved. So that Mr. Strutt became 
early distinguished for his enlightened mind and inde- 
fatigable efforts : giving to his inventive genius a new 
and efficient direction, leading at an early period of his 

life to the career which was unexpectedlv opening 

i r i,- ^ 

betore him. 

On attaining manhood, the death of his uncle placed 
him in the farm at Blackwell ; and in 1755 he married 
Miss Woollett of Derby, whose brother has been named 
above. This lady had a well cultivated mind ; and in 
age, station, and all other respects, was well suited to 
him. The marriage was a happy one for both parties, 
and indirectly led to the important invention with which 
Mr. Strutt's name has been since so honourably associated. 



90 THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 

It was now that lie, by Mr. Woollett's representations 
of the difficulty and importance of the matter then 
occupying the frame-work-knitting world, was induced 
to make himself practically acquainted with the prin- 
ciples and movements of a stocking-frame ; probably 
the most if not the only very complex machine he had 
ever seen ; and this with the idea, no doubt at first but 
a remote one, of so dealing with it as to cause it to 
produce what hitherto had been thought to be beyond 
its powers. A clergyman had invented it, why should 
not a farmer increase its capacity for usefulness ? 
After much labour, time, and expense, he succeeded 
admirably in this ; by making an addition to it, or 
rather placing in front of it so as to work in unison and 
harmony with it, a distinct apparatus or l machine' ; 
thus between them to produce the ribbed web of looped 
fabric : and not, as popularly stated, by finding out the 
defects of Lee's frame, and devoting himself to its im- 
provement. It is necessary to Lee's fame, as well as 
to Strutt's, that this should be correctly understood. 
Strutt left every part and movement of Lee's frame 
unaltered; so that when a ribbing apparatus is at- 
tached, if not put in separate action, Lee's frame may 
be worked, as it always has been, and produces perfect 
plain web : put both into co-operative action, and ribbed 
work is the result. Strutt's invention rests on a new 
and great principle ; that which is at the back of the 
invention of Dawson's wheels, devised a quarter of a 
century after, and of Jacquard's apparatus, constructed 
a quarter of a century later still: the fact of applying 
external means for mechanically selecting and operating, 
independently of any or all others, on any individual 
thread or needle, lever or bar, at work in the machine, 
formerly only making plain web work ; thereby giving 
power to produce fancy work of either a simple rib or 
spot, or the highest complexity in pattern of which woven 
fabrics are capable. The germ of this discovery had been 
hid in the selection by hand of warp threads in forming 
patterns on the old weaving-loom ; this, its further 
development, was of inestimable value. 

The apparatus added by Mr. Strutt consisted of an iron machine, 
hung on jointed arms in front of the ordinary frame. In this were 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 91 

placed needles of like form with those at work already, but while the 
row in Lee's frame is set horizontally, these were placed nearly per- 
pendicularly, and so as to enter between the horizontal ones. The 
number of needles fixed in the added machine, and their relative 
places on the extra bar, would correspond with the width of the ribs 
and number of loops to be reversed to form them. Thus, in one and 
one rib, i.e. one loop formed as usual, and the next to be reversed, 
and so on across the frame by which process the two sides or faces 
of the web appear alike there will be as many needles in the 
added machine as there are reversed stitches to be formed, one facing 
every other loop. When all the old frame needles have had their loops 
pressed, which all face the usual way, the needles of the new 
machine are brought by its swinging action to enter between the old 
ones and penetrating the loop or loops to form the rib, and these 
loops being passed under their beards, they are in this operation 
reversed, and being also pressed again, pass over the needle heads with 
the other loops, but with the visible part of the ribbing loops turned 
the other way. 

Ribbed goods are variously arranged as to width of 
reversed stripes. For the tops of socks, wristbands on 
shirts, and ancle bands on pantaloon drawers, the ribs 
are mostly one and one. In hose from round frames this 
is also a favourite rib. For many years, when men's 
stockings were not hidden by trowsers, ribs of wider 
stripes were fashionable in white cotton hose. Fancy 
coloured striped hose were long made on these frames. 

Articles are now made more extensively every year 
of ribbed work in wide and narrow stripes of all colours, 
and of each kind of material, suitable for male and 
female use. 

The principle of Strutt's Derby rib machine remains 
unaltered ; its operation has been simplified, however, by 
its subordination to automatic movement, as will be at 
once seen on examination of power hosiery frames lately 
constructed. 

By the close examination of Lee's frame, which Strutt 
must have made in order to become fully master of 
its construction, he would no doubt convince himself 
that there had been left but little to be done in 
the way of simplifying or shortening the ordinary 
movements of the frame. The knowledge he could not 
but obtain during his own investigations into the con- 
struction of the machine, of the efforts of others and 
their ill success, would cause his ideas to take new 
directions. In this respect it was probably no ground 



92 THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 

for regret that he came to the work free from all pre- 
judices of the frame-smith or the stocking- maker. The 
hints which, in common with all inventors, he might 
gather from theories and plans floating around him, 
were negative rather than positive ; indicative of what 
was to be avoided, not shewing what was to be done. 
He came to the conclusion that it must be somethingadded 
to that machinery which was already at work in the 
stocking-frame, and having devised the simple principle 
on which it must act, by a well ordered combination of 
parts and motions, accomplished his task. This required 
great genius and skill on the part of Mr. Strutt, and 
was followed in due time by an ample reward. 

The apparatus applied by Strutt to the front of the 
machine, was necessarily, when in operation, the most 
prominent object about the frame. This fact had pro- 
bably a most important bearing on the future history 
of the trades. An equivalent mechanical device has 
been since adapted to ribbed power frames, but so 
closely allied to them, and as it were hidden in its 
operations as to almost escape notice, and challenging 
no investigation on the part of the bystander. Had 
this been the plan originally adopted by Strutt, the 
idea of external individual action on the needles, might 
have long lain dormant. But when some hundreds 
and at length thousands of ribbed machines were 
spread over the three midland hosiery counties, shewing 
the mechanical selection of loops; and when every 
workman in a plain stocking-frame, by the hand use of 
a pointed wire, was constantly removing loops, and thus 
making eyelet holes in his web ; the almost necessary- 
result was a further development of the principle. This 
took place within a short time ; for it lies as the basis 
of Morris's patents of 1763 and 1781. Eyelet hole 
ancles and insteps were thus made in ladies' hose. 
Under Crane's patent, 1768, looped nets were made; 
and Else, in 1770, made the * pin-machine,' both by 
added operations on the needles. This principle of 
control and selection, variously applied and modified, 
produced, in succession, the knotted, twilled, stump, 
mesh, and point net machines. In 1769, E,. Frost, by 
means of a perforated square hollow roller, affecting the 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 93 

operations of a sliding 1 tickler machine, and thus the 
working of any hook or needle at pleasure, produced 
the first useful imitation by machinery of fancy lace. 
The warp machinery operates on every thread ; it being 
all warp, and looped sideways, each thread with its 
neighbour; but it is equally subjected to command as 
to every needle in its wide horizontal range by ma- 
chinery acting, if need be, on the principle of selection. 
Thus, in addition to a series of inventions in fancy 
hosiery which caused great increase in its machinery, 
the large pin, point and warp lace trades of Nottingham, 
Lyons, and Vienna, indirectly leading to the still more 
extensive bobbin net manufacture of this country and 
the continent, owe their origin to this invention. And 
it is gratifying to trace here briefly, what will occupy 
the reader's attention hereafter more at large the 
history of a simple discovery pregnant with unlocked 
for yet immense national benefits. 

Though much attached to Blackwell and its quiet 
pursuits, yet the patents which were taken out in 1758, 
No. 722, and in 1759, No. 734, to secure the in- 
vention just described for making ribs, rendered it 
more convenient and pleasant for Mr. Strutt to remove 
to Derby, where he could superintend the carrying 
out of his plans in conjunction with Mr. Woollett, 
now become his partner : so he took up his residence 
there immediately. By this change he was placed in 
frequent intercourse with minds congenial to his own. 
The hosiery manufactory carried on by the firm rapidly 
increased, especially in these patent articles called 
" Derby ribs" from the town where first made. They 
possess the peculiarity of great elasticity, and yet 
tendency to cling to the surface of the limb on which 
they are worn. From this circumstance, ribbed goods, 
whether hand or frame- work, have always been much 
liked. The demand for the hand-knitted ribbed hose 
was rather increased than otherwise, while that for 
machine-wrought was such as very soon to bring about 
infringements. These issued in two trials at West- 
minster. The first action was against associated hosiers 
in Derby; the second against a like combination at 
Nottingham both ending in verdicts for the plaintiffs. 



94 THE DERBY EIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 

They afterwards enjoyed their rights in peace until the 
patents expired. 

The partnership received an addition in Mr. Samuel 
Need of Nottingham ; and the business was carried on 
under the firm of Need, Strutt, and Woollett, until 
towards the expiration of the patents in 1773. 

Morris's patent of 1764, which will be fully described 
afterwards, was an infringement of Strutt's invention. 
They took no notice of it; nor 'of Crane's in 1768, also 
an infringement 5 nor of Else's in 1770, which w r as an 
infringement of both Strutt's and Morris's patents. 
Though they defended their rights against combined 
hosiers, who injured them by making ribbed hose with- 
out acknowledgement, they took no serious steps against 
either Morris or Crane or Else, who though in reality 
all infringing, were doing so by the use of Strutt's 
plan, but for making very different classes of goods ; and 
therefore though not benefitting, yet not injuring them. 
Not so Morris ; against his poor, though exceedingly 
clever co-partner in building the very machine of 1764, he 
put the law in force on account of Else's further improve- 
ment of 1788, ruined him, and then quietly used Else's 
patented modifications in his own machines. 

A poor imitation producing what were called pack 
thread ribs and soon laid aside, was made by pressing 
one needle and missing one. This, however, led to the 
making of 'sankey' and 'bird's-eye' hose. 

Mr. Strutt continued in the hosiery manufacture until 
his death dissolved the partnership with Mr. Woollett. 
The family finally retired from the trade in 1805, having 
disposed of their frames to Messrs. Paget and Byng, 
for 12. each on an average. 

A train of circumstances apparently as fortuitous as 
those which had brought Mr. Jedediah Strutt into the 
hosiery manufacture, opened before him in 1771, and led 
him into the business of cotton spinning, which, so far 
as magnitude of operations and profits was in question, 
in process of time left those of the stocking manufacture 
in the back ground. His position as a large consumer 
of cotton yarn already might dispose his mind to 
entertain this new matter favourably. 

Nottingham very narrowly missed on this occasion 



THE DERBY KIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 95 

being made the seat of the cotton manufacture, which, 
had steam power been then available, in all proba- 
bility it would have become. Coal, iron, skilled 
artizans, and cheap labour were as abundantly at 
command there as in Lancashire. If Manchester 
had the advantage of proximity to Liverpool for its 
cotton wool, the eastern counties lying so near to Nott- 
ingham secured supplies of labourers and food. The 
demand for cotton yarn increased as rapidly for the 
manufacture of hosiery as for that of the weft in calicoes, 
the warps of which were for a long time of linen yarn. 
Nottingham and Derby therefore became large markets 
for cotton yarn, a circumstance that no doubt led Har- 
greaves and Arkwright to bring their immature spinning 
inventions to Nottingham for protection and pecuniary 
support. The latter, Arkwright obtained from Messrs. 
Wright the bankers of that place, who, not only on this 
but on several other occasions, have liberally shewn the 
interest they take in the progress of local manufactures, 
by rendering assistance to rising talent and merit. But 
the machinery not being perfected so soon as expected 
and which, if successful, would evidently render the aid 
and supervision of capitalists and practical men of 
business necessary they recommended Arkwright to 
apply to Messrs. Need and Strutt. After visiting his 
works already in operation in Nottingham and making a 
sufficient investigation, these gentlemen were satisfied 
that the invention itself was of extraordinary importance, 
and in 1771 entered into partnership with Arkwright, 
furnishing the capital necessary for its satisfactory 
development from the ample means afforded by profits 
in their hosiery trade. Need did not remain very long 
a partner in the cotton spinning business. 

This patent for spinning yarn by the use of rollers 
was obtained in 1769, and was taken out in the name 
of " Richard Arkwright of Nottingham, clock-maker." 
This was also the year in which Watt secured a patent 
for his steam-engine. 

The first cotton mill was erected at Nottingham, and 
was driven by horses. Up to this time things had not 
progressed satisfactorily in the practical working out of 
the invention. Arkwright met with unexpected diffi- 



96 THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 

culties when enlarging his scale of operations, and it 
was fortunate for him that Strutt brought skill as well 
as money in aid of the affair at this its incipient 
stage. One such impediment had baffled and annoyed 
Arkwright for a time. The fibres of the cotton wool 
in being drawn through the rollers were very apt to 
11 lick," i.e. stick to the upper roller and wrap round 
it, instead of the roving going forward to the spindle 
clear and uniform in size. On this being made known 
to Mr. Strutt, he at once had the top rollers rubbed with 
chalk and thus cured the evil. After his entering the 
business, which was soon transferred to near Cromford, 
the difficulties both pecuniary and mechanical quickly 
disappeared. 

In 1775 the first of four splendid mills was erected 
at Belper on the Derwent, that stream furnishing an 
ample supply of power. The construction of this large 
building and its water-wheel, together with the ma- 
chinery with which it was filled, called the mechanical 
science and inventive powers of Mr. Jedediah Strutt 
again into exercise. The building was cfestined to be the 
precursor of other factories; by means of which Belper, 
then a mere hamlet, has become the second town of the 
county. It has been well said, "that the record of Mr. 
Strutt's life, as of that of many other remarkable men and 
public benefactors, is to be found written in his works." 
This eminently successful partnership continued, though 
after several trials to sustain the patent rights, its ever 
enlarging affairs until 1781, when Arkwright retained 
Cromford, and Strutt the works at Belper and Milford. 

Meantime, although yarn of excellent quality was 
spun by the patentees, the Lancashire calico weavers 
combined against its use ; a course adopted partly from 
prejudice in favour of hand-spinners and their yarns ; 
and partly by some supposed adverse interests of their 
own. No event in the history of manufactures ever 
transpired of wider influence, nor has any question arisen 
in regard to them, on the right solution of which have 
hung more weighty consequences. The cotton trade 
of the empire was then in the balance. Happily it found 
its natural and just settlement by the breaking up of 
the confederacy. Mr. Strutt suggested to Mr. Need, 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME.- 97 

still his partner at Derby, the possibility and advantage 
of weaving calicoes all of cotton, instead of using, as 
hitherto practised in Lancashire, linen warps. The 
attempt was successfully made in 1773, the warps re- 
ceiving the necessary twist and preparation to resist 
the friction of weaving; and thus an article was pro- 
duced less costly and for many purposes more suitable 
than the one the use of which it rapidly replaced. The 
jealous fears of the bulk of the manufacturers were 
excited ; and they soon pointed out that by law the 
11 ew article was subject to a double duty of 6d. per yard 
and to prohibition when printed, and in regard to 
either class they strenuously insisted on its being rigidly 
enforced. Strutt and Need had made a large quantity 
of the unmixed calicoes, and found it necessary to 
encounter the odium and expense of an application to 
the legislature for relief. This was granted, after a 
severe opposition, by an Act passed in 1774, specially 
applicable to this manufacture, repealing the prohibition 
and the discriminating duty, and declaring it to be 
"a lawful and laudable manufacture." 

The machinery for weaving the calicoes was placed 
and worked at Derby, in the first fire-proof mill ever 
erected, having brick floors laid on brick arches. The 
building remains, but it is now used for other purposes. 
Derby long remained the chief centre of the commercial 
business of Mr. Strutt, Belper and Milford continuing 
the places of the yarn production, and in consequence 
of the relatively increasing importance of the latter in 
his affairs generally, he took up his abode at Milford 
house near Belper, a mansion of his own construction. 
He gave close personal superintendence to the business. 
The number of hands employed was great ; systematic 
attention was paid to their health and comfort; and 
their education, intelligence, and morals were objects 
of Mr. Strutt's earnest solicitude. 

In consequence of illness which supervened about 
1795, Mr. Strutt returned to Derby; where, at Exeter 
house, he died in 1797, in his sixty-ninth year. 

An outline of the more marked lineaments of Mr. 
Strutt's character, may be traced with considerable 
accuracy from the account above given of the principal 

IT 



98 THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 

occurrences in his business life. An intellect singularly 
clear and cool, was combined in him with the faculty 
of devising inventions and improvements, which he 
carried into effect with unwearied energy of mind and 
purpose; impressing themselves on the entire conduct 
of his establishments as they increased in magnitude. 
His tenacity of principle and moral fortitude resulted 
from his confidence that his determinations were founded 
upon truth. His convictions in regard to general views 
of society were equally strong. His political and 
religious opinions were liberal, and adopted because he 
thought them sound and conducive to the happiness of 
mankind. Mr. Strutt had the satisfaction, denied to his 
great prototype Lee, of realizing a large reward for his 
ingenuity. He had the qualities of being a good 
mechanic, a clever man of business, and a patron of 
ingenuity in those around him. He saw with great 
satisfaction, while building up a princely income for his 
family, his own interests as a manufacture were directly 
contributive to the national advantage. Mr. Strutt 
seems to have been singularly devoid of ambition for 
worldly distinction ; he was only ambitious of the bless- 
ing that follows duty done. To promote the welfare 
of his family, to encourage the trade of which he had 
been the founder, and to fill with honour the station to 
which his talents, energy, and integrity had raised him, 
were the objects at which he aimed. These he attained 
in an eminent degree. 

The true estimate of Mr. Strutt as an inventor is 
that he fixed the starting point leading the way to an 
immense field of invention. This is thus expressed by 
Blackner : 

"Common justice demands of me to say that next to Mr. Lee 
himself, the country owes more to Mr. Strutt, than to any other man 
that ever engaged in the frame- work-knitting business ; as from the 
application of his machine, the invention of every other which has 
been appended to the stocking-frame, has progressively emanated. 
From this slender but fortunate beginning of one industrious and 
ingenious man, have several most extensive fortunes been realized. 
What is still more honourable, the names of the Strutts, as patriots, 
etand second to none in the kingdom." 

Some idea of the magnitude of the concerns of this 
family may be gathered from the circumstance, stated 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 99 

by a respectable writer after visiting Milford and Belper, 
that on wishing to retire from the business about 1820, 
they proposed to any one who would purchase their 
works at a valuation, that they would allow the parties 
a bonus of 150,000. The extensive area over which the 
yarns of this, one of the two first great cotton spinning- 
houses, are sold and consumed, may be gathered from the 
fact, that from Moscow, amongst other merchandize on 
the road, lines of two-wheel carts each laden with its 
bales marked with the well-known brand of this firm, 
may be seen on their way to Novgorod fair ; and from 
thence may be again passed on the route to Kiackta, 
the Eussian frontier mart for the Chinese north-west 
provinces. Everywhere these marks on bale and bundle 
are accepted as the unfailing pledges of the integrity 
of the article in every respect. Equal, perhaps superior 
confidence is thus placed in the honour of the English 
makers and vendors of the goods, to the assurance 
given of their having been unrifled and unchanged in 
transit, by the imperial seals of Russia and China 
attached to them. When will the sentiments of honour 
and truth of an over competitive age be aroused 
to feel that the forgery of a trade mark is a flagrant 
robbery from the maker and imposition upon the 
buyer ? 

After the death of Mr. Jedediah Strutt, the business 
was carried on by his three sons, William, George, and 
Joseph. Some of the remarkable characteristics of the 
father have been perpetuated in his descendants. Having 
all of them been associated with Mr. Strutt in the con- 
duct of the concern, they continued to manage it with 
progressive enterprise, intelligence, and success. They 
were also alike distinguished for literary taste and 
liberality of feeling. 

Mr. William Strutt, the eldest son, inherited much 
of his father's mechanical genius. His self-acting mule 
was not, from some unknown cause, entirely successful. 
The first fire-proof building already named was built 
by him. He devised a system for thoroughly warming 
and ventilating large buildings : with improved methods 
of cooking, washing, and drying. Indeed he appears 
to have been devoted to scientific and literary pursuits. 

H2 



100 THE DERBY EIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 

His mansion was richly adorned by paintings and works 
of art. He was pre-eminent for zeal and liberality in 
promoting public improvements at Derby. Its institu- 
tions, especially the Infirmary, owe much of their ex- 
cellence and usefulness to him. To these objects he 
devoted much time and money; and he was equally 
exemplary in private life. He died in 1830, aged 
74, universally regretted, leaving an only son Edward, 
the present Lord Belper, who was born at Derby 
in 1801. 

Mr. Joseph Strutt, the third son of Jedediah, resided 
at St. Peter's, Derby. This ' amiable man was a patron 
of literature and art. His urbanity of manners won 
the regard of every one who came in contact with him. 
His princely liberality endowed the town with the 
beautiful Arboretum, and helped to establish the Insti- 
tute. His name is introduced here, that the noble 
words with which he concluded his opening address 
of the Arboretum, in 1840, may adorn these pages: 

"If we wish to obtain the affections of others, we must manifest 
kindness and regard towards them. If we seek to wean them from 
debasing pursuits and brutalizing pleasures, we can only hope to do 
so by opening to them new sources of rational enjoyment. It is 
under this conviction that I dedicate these gardens to the public. 
As the sun has shone brightly on me through life, it would be un- 
grateful in me not to employ a portion of the fortune I possess in 
promoting the welfare of those amongst whom I live, and by whose 
industry I have been aided in its acquisition." 

On Mr. George Strutt devolved much of the manage- 
ment of the business at Belper ; and evidently imbued 
with his brother's sentiments, by his conduct he acquired 
in a remarkable degree the confidence of his workpeople. 
His son John seems to have inherited the like principles, 
judging from the following account very characteristic 
of the considerate liberality of the successive members 
of the Strutt family, in their unwearied endeavours to 
secure the comforts and enjoyments of their workpeople. 
It is given by Gardiner, Music and Friends, vol. n., 
p. 512, after personal examination of the matter he 
describes. Being himself an enthusiastic lover of the 
Divine art, he gives it with his warmest approval, in 
the hope of its proving a stimulating example to other 
employers : 



THE DERBY RIB HOSIERY-FRAME. 101 

"John, the son of Mr. George Strutt, possessed refined musical 
taste, and rendered his neighbourhood as famous in that science, as 
any district in Germany. He formed a musical society of forty or 
more selected persons out of his mills and workshops, making a band of 
vocal and instrumental performers. They were regularly taught by 
masters ; and whatever time was consumed in these studies, was 
reckoned in their working hours. When mustered, five or six forge- 
men in their leather aprons might be seen sending forth terrific notes 
on trombones or ophicleides. Soon after this music school was com- 
menced, it was found the proficients were enticed away to commence 
as teachers of music. To remedy this, the members of the orchestra 
were bound to remain at the works seven years. The orchestral 
instruments and books, packed and placed on a pair of wheels formed 
a carriage, with an omnibus for performers, which could be moved to 
Derby or elsewhere, on public or charitable occasions. As an incen- 
tive to excellence, Mr. Strutt took occasionally half-a-dozen of the 
cleverest with him to London, to hear the finest singers and per- 
formers of the age. Solicitude for the happiness of their work-people 
and the population around, and for their social and moral advancement, 
has marked the conduct of the successive members of this family. 
They have become very wealthy ; but people do not so much speak 
of the amount of their property, as of churches and institutes, chapels 
and schools, to the erection of which it is liberally devoted." 

In closing an account of the second great inventor 
in the stocking manufacture, it seems almost impossible 
to avoid the thought, how strange are the contrasted 
events of human life ; when one reflects on the melan- 
choly fate of Lee ; of Elizabeth's coldness ; and his sad 
exile and lonely death : arid then turning to the bright 
and usefully happy days ; the long and tranquil career 
of Jedediah Strutt ; to whom, in only the third genera- 
tion, there follows in the person of Edward, Mr. Strutt' s 
grandson, the member of the House of Commons, the 
minister, and at length the peer. It was in 1856 that 
Queen Victoria, as a mark of the interest she took in 
the manufacturing industry of the country, and having 
observed that " this important element of national wealth 
had not been suitably represented in the Upper House," 
expressed, through Lord Palmerston, her intention of 
conferring on Edward Strutt, Esq., of Kingston Hall, 
Nottinghamshire, the honour of the peerage. He paid 
a graceful compliment to the town of Belper, as the 
scene of the commercial enterprise and prosperity of his 
family, by adopting its name for his title. Few modern 
peerages have been better earned, or the bestowal of 
which have been more generally acceptable to the country. 



( 102 ) 



CHAPTER VII. 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. -1760 TO 1800. 

LEE'S stocking-frames liad now been known and used 
in Spain for many years, and silk hose made upon them 
had been imported into France and England. About 
the year 1700 open work mitts and gloves, and hose 
ornamented with eyelet holes made by using the work 
needle or hand ticklers, and which had also been 
embroidered by hand, were imported into England. 
These were quickly imitated here, but still by hand. The 
introduction of Strutt's added machine led to many 
attempts to make these eyelet ornaments by machinery 
applied on the like principle. These efforts were 
generally carried on with much mystery, for the profit 
anticipated from success was very great, as the wages 
obtained by hands making such work were 5s. to 7s. 
a-day if diligent, at a time when meat was only \\d. 
per Ib. and bread in porportion. 

Amongst those who were thus engaged was one 
Butterworth, a stocking-maker, living near Mansfield, 
who devised a plan which he was obliged to confide to 
Betts, a smith working in his neighbourhood, in order to 
carry it into effect by the construction of the necessary 
machinery. This was in fact a union of the principal 
parts and movements of the tuck presser and Derby rib 
to be added to the stocking-frame. By it the tuck 
presser brought the stitches which were to be shifted 
to the needle heads. These were removed to make the 
eyelet holes by short flat and pointed ticklers or points 
cast in leads and fastened to the tickler bar. They had 
two eyes at first and were brought in a parallel direction 
to the needle heads ; and then when the stitches were 
on the ticklers, they had a side or shogging movement 
given to all of them, by which these stitches were placed 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 103 

on the needles intended to receive them. From the 
history of this and several after inventions of this 
period, it will be seen how difficult it is sometimes to 
allot with perfect certainty the meed of credit arid 
praise due to each respectively, who laboured in this 
field of constructive operations often for years in the 
nearest proximity to each other, and not unfrequently 
with the like end in view. To supply the money to 
complete this invention, was beyond Butterworth's 
means ; through Betts it was obtained of Ferdinando 
Shaw also of Mansfield, and probably on the responsi- 
bility of Betts. The latter being fully possessed of the 
plan, and having an insight into its importance and 
value, threw Butterworth aside apparently without re- 
muneration ; and as Shaw became either unable or un- 
willing to furnish the further funds necessary to obtain- 
ing a patent for the invention, Betts made overtures to 
Mr. John Morris, a hosier of Nottingham, who accepted 
them ; and with Betts and Shaw proceeded to London, 
where the patent was taken out in 1764, No. 807, in the 
names of Thomas and John Morris and of John and 
William Betts : 

"For making by a machine to be fixed to a stocking-frame eyelet 
holes or net work, having an additional row of frame tickler needles." 

In Shaw's absence, but while the three remained in 
London, it is related that Betts sold the entire interest 
in the patent to Morris. This information with what 
follows relating to Shaw was received by Gr. Henson 
from Roland, the inventor of the double lap warp method 
of making hosiery, who was born about 1750 and died 
in 1838. This person said he had worked for Shaw, 
and knew Betts and Morris well. Shaw having been 
promised his share of the profits to be realized under 
the patent, was so chagrined by the transfer to Morris 
without any remuneration to himself, that he proceeded 
to the Netherlands to set up the manufacture there. He 
visited the chief places where hosiery and lace manu- 
factures were carried on Brussels, Lisle, Tournay, and 
Valenciennes, but met with no encouragement. At the 
latter city he saw a widow making mitts and handker- 
chiefs in imitation of Spanish open work, by, to him, a 



10-4 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 

new method. A warp was framed in an upright position, 
the threads of which were made fast at the bottom. 
They were platted by hand and kept from unplatting 
by the insertion of pieces of thin wood whilst a new 
series were similarly platting. After about twenty -four 
of such layers had been made, the bottom end of the 
frame was withdrawn and the platted work fastened. 
Each layer produced a row of eyelet holes in the web. 
She was then making silk mitts with comparative ease 
and rapidity, and he found that they could be thus 
produced at a lower cost than the tickler mitts, the 
machinery for making which he was wishing to intro- 
duce. He brought the widow and her plan to Mansfield, 
and as the apparatus cost little, he soon made great pro- 
gress in its use. But Morris, upon this, having the help 
of Else's inventive genius in improving his machinery, 
ruined Shaw by lowering the prices for his tickler- 
machine wrought goods ; and in consequence part of 
these Netherlands wooden frames were sold to Mr. 
Fellows, of Nottingham, and part to Mr. White, of 
Chesterfield. 

It is true that this statement about Shaw's wooden 
frames coming into Fellows' hands is altogether contra- 
dicted by another account, which is to the effect that two 
Swiss mechanics, after seeking in vain to dispose of such 
machines elsewhere, brought them to Nottingham and sold 
them to Mr. Fellows, who worked them near Weekday 
Cross, and is said to have obtained a patent for the plan, 
but this has not been ascertained. The peculiar mode 
of placing and using the warp threads here described, 
was so frequently adopted by those who many years 
after sought to find out methods for making platted lace 
by machinery with rapidity and at a moderate cost, as 
to lead to the saying that this machine opened the way 
in a more especial manner to the construction of lace 
machinery. But the course of invention which has yet 
to be described, as it is that most generally accepted, 
is also most natural and probable. The eyelet hole 
machine, by the facility 'with which the covering tickler 
could be used, was the first stop really taken after Strutt 
towards making lace from the stocking-frame. A. Else, 
by getting rid of one eye in the form and use of these 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 105 

ticklers, so improved them that this class of machinery 
has in consequence spread over every country where 
hosiery-frames are employed. 

About the year 1770, Else and Harvey took the "pin" 
machine which they had constructed, from London to 
Nottingham. Haynes allowed Harvey 50. a-year, 
during Haynes' "point" patent, not to work Else and 
Harvey's invention. 

It was extensively used in the latter place for some 
years afterwards for making lace, but from some un- 
known cause it ceased to be employed. Excepting that 
it is said to have had one crank pin to each needle, 
its construction, mode of operation, and the kind of 
article it then produced, have long been forgotten in 
England. But this machine was soon introduced into 
France, where, after a series of modifications, it became 
the prolific source of employment and wealth. The 
Convention gave a large sum to Rhambolt for getting this 
English frame ; and it is from machines made on the 
principle of this, but considerably improved, that at 
Lyons the large production of the single and double 
silk net is obtained; as also the like articles now ex- 
tensively manufactured in or near Vienna. These goods 
are known and used wherever lace is consumed. Harvey, 
when asked in 1812 to describe the pin-machine, could 
not ; he had forgotten his own invention. Had there 
been a museum for the reception and conservation as 
well as public exhibition of machinery and its products 
in Nottingham and such there ought to be in every 
seat of manufacturing industry this and other now 
unused and forgotten ingenious combinations would be 
rendered available, not to gratify an idle curiosity, but 
for useful examination and reference. This has long 
been desired by the more considerate and fore-seeing 
amongst both inventors and experienced manufac- 
turers. It would become an explanatory pendant of the 
best kind, to that increasingly useful institution in 
Nottingham the local corporation patent office, 
should both ever become placed where the machines 
can be examined easily with the specifications and ex- 
planatory maps. 

A patent was taken out by John Morris in 1781, 



106 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 

No. 1282, for an improvement on the patent of 1764 ; 
whereby the sinker loop was put across two needles 
making point net ; these may be taken together as an 
invention almost equal to any brought out between 1760 
and 1800 in these trades. Attempts were made to avoid 
the rights of the patentees. Some worked with hooks 
instead of points. Some placed them differently. The 
following case was curious as to the facts, and is often 
referred to as an important judicial statement of the law : 

Upon the trial of a cause, Morris v. Branson, in 1778, before Lord 
Mansfield, for infringement of this ' tickler' patent, evidence was given 
that by the use of a telescope in the early morning from the upper 
hill of Nottingham Park, opposite to Branson's open shop-windows, 
the machine was seen at work. Upon proof being given of this fact, 
the wife of one Mayo swore she had invented the machine, and used 
it before the date of the patent ; which statement was supported by 
her husband. It was also pleaded that the patent must be for, 
substantially and essentially, a new invention ; whereas this was only 
for an addition. A juror pointed out that this objection would destroy 
every patent right. The jury found for the patentee, with 500 
damages a verdict in which Lord Mansfield acquiesced. The court 
held, that " to effect by machinery in any mode the working of a whole 
course or row of loops at once, that which, before Morris's patent was 
done loop by loop singly by hand, was an infringement of it." 
Branson took his frames out of the country, but was overtaken when 
in sight of the French coast. On submission and giving up the 
machines, the fine was remitted. Morris agreed that he would 
employ him on a rent for the machinery. Mayo on his way also to 
France was taken by a press gang, sent to sea, and not heard of 
again. 

Now that modifications of the stocking-frame had 
begun, they were vigorously carried on. Else, assisted 
by a stocking-maker, Hammond, discarding the tuck 
presser, devised an apparatus regulating the tickler's ope- 
ration on a sliding needle bar, and giving a side motion 
to remove the stitch by the tickler alone. This nearly 
doubled the speed over Morris's plan. It was on the 
use of this plan that the latter brought his action for 
infringement, which it certainly was, of Betts' (or 
Butterworth's) tickler. Why Morris bore so hard on Else 
is not known, as the former had the reputation of gene- 
rosity in paying high wages for the making of his goods 
under the patent. It is worthy of notice that Morris 
took out his patent for the work, as well as the machine. 

A figured lace-web was first made in 1769 by 



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MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 107 

Mr. Robert Frost, on a frame arranged by Thomas 
Taylor, of Nottingham. 

A slide lever tickler was used to every needle, and those which 
are desired to operate, being pushed forward by a carved roller, on 
the principle of an organ or chime-barrel. This roller had projecting 
points on the surface, adjusted according to the requirements ,of the 
pattern ; these pressed on pins at the ends of those tickler slides which 
were required, leaving those not wanted to remain at rest. There 
being one of these ticklers to each needle, any stitch in the course 
or row could be moved at pleasure, and any pattern produced." 

In 1767 velvet pile web was made on the stocking- 
frame, under a patent taken out by Ross and Donetti, 
who produced the article chiefly in London and 
Edmonton. 

The mode of procedure was to add a slack course to a stiff one ; 
and a wire being passed through every second loop taken off by a 
tuck presser in the process of forming the row or course of loops 
across the frame, left long loops on the face of the work, which before 
the wire was drawn out were cut, and left a loose pile. 

It was unsound, in consequence of the velvet pile 
drawing out, and its use was soon discontinued. Never- 
theless Ross had a great sale for it at first ; paid his 
workmen a shilling an hour wages, and retired with a 
competency, dying in London in 1786. 

Josias Crane and J. P. Porter patented, in 1769, 
No. 940, " a machine in which is fixed a set of slides 
added to a stocking- frame." It was for shading, 
brocading, and flowering in gold, silver, &c. mitts, 
gloves, hoods, aprons, &c. in all shades of colour. It 
was a beautiful article, but required more than an 
ordinary share of ingenuity in the workman. 

The needles were not cast into leads, but had small bits of iron 
affixed to them, and were placed in grooves on the needle bar, with 
a string fastened to each. There was a cylinder roller put into 
operation from behind the frame. A draivboy brought back the 
needles necessary to produce any given pattern, while the workman 
placed coloured or other threads of silk, &c. on those needles that 
remained. 

Inlaid or shot brocade was afterwards made by 
means of added thread carriers and ticklers operating on 
different needles. (These thread carriers were destined 
to become most important additions to all looping 
frames). Thus most rich waistcoat-pieces were produced. 
But the cost, added to a change of fashion, laid them 



308 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINES. 

aside. Crane gained little benefit from his invention, 
and died a poor man. 

Having described this machine, Blackner, with the 
true prescience of an ingenious man, enquires, " might 
not the drawloy have been dispensed with, by pricking 
patterns on a cylinder like a tune on an organ-barrel 
to be turned by the foot ?" 

A person named Broadhurst, of Nottingham, reversed 
Frost's plan above described, by the following method : 

The cylinder was placed in front of the frame, and had iron pins 
driven in upon its surface to form the pattern, with spring ticklers to 
press into the eyes of the needles, and the stitches were removed 
without touching the needles. 

The fabrics made on this class of machines were of 
two kinds : one an opaque stocking web, and eyelet hole 
pattern ; the other an eyelet hole ground, and figures of 
stocking fine looped web. 

Not being of fast mesh and liable to break into large 
holes, the article went out of use here. Rhambolt took 
this machine also to France in 1785, where it continued 
in work for more than thirty years. 

In 1771 Richard March and William Horton took 
out the patent, No. 991, for machine knitted or knotted 
hosiery; and in 1776, No. 1120, a patent was granted 
to W. Horton for knotted and double looped work. 
Under these patents most excellent and durable articles 
were made. 

This was effected by replacing the long covering ticklers, using 
a short shouldered point to every needle. These points are passed 
into the loops, and by a clever side movement raise and place each 
loop on the next needle to that on which it was wixmght. It thus 
becomes knotted. By turning the rack one way a given number of 
courses, and then turning it back a like number, a ribbed lustrous 
article is made ; or if the rack is alternated every course, shaded work 
is produced. 

The use of this kind of hosiery has varied greatly at 
different epochs. In 1795 the demand was supplied 
with difficulty by 1000 frames; ten years later not more 
than fifty were employed. They have since more than 
once become fashionable both at home and abroad. 
The great defect of knotted work is their coarse ap- 
pearance, though made from thirty to thirty-four guage 
three-needle silk frames, The finest in the world was 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 109 

a forty-six guage built by consul Le Brun (colleague 
with Napoleon Buonaparte) who established a manu- 
factory for frame- work- knitting at Dordogne in France. 

Mr. Wm. Horton was a native of Hinckley. On 
account of some youthful indiscretion, he removed to 
Chacomb, in Northamptonshire. He began life pro- 
bably as a stocking-frame repairer and setter-up. It is 
certain that he very early acquired an intimate know- 
ledge of the principle and working of the machine. 
The former he conceived to be perfect : but devising 
means of modifying the latter became the ruling passion 
of his long and useful life. Seeing a workman making 
the diamond in the hand of a glove by tucking or 
knotting it, the plan was suggested of making stock- 
ings wholly of knotted work. This task he accomplished 
ultimately, using John Lindley's tickler machine, in 
which every other loop was knotted ; also imitating 
Else's plan, with a novel combination of other parts. 
Horton aimed at and succeeded in knotting every loop ; 
thus making an elastic as well as sound fabric ; it was 
knotted so fast that it would not run on the thread 
being broken. 

His finances were low while constructing his frame, 
and he fell into an additional difficulty by the serious 
injury of a new ordinary stocking-frame, while taking it 
to its destination on the back of a pack horse. A friend 
assisted him with money : but his resources becoming 
exhausted, he went to live in London ; and there 
finishing his newly invented frame, succeeded in gaining 
the confidence and co-operation of Mr. March, a hosier ; 
it was patented as above stated. 

Difficulties occurred in the perfect working of the 
frame. The patentees offered a reward of 20 for the 
remedy of a defect in the points. Peet, a master 
stocking-maker, devised a shoulder or elevation in 
their shape. When shewn to Horton, or to March, he 
exclaimed, "that is what I wanted"; applied the im- 
provement, but merely gave Peet as his recompense 
employment on liberal terms. Betts, another workman 
of Horton's, was fortunate enough to still further improve 
the working of the points, and is said to have received 
50 for his skill. Nevertheless the then well-known 



110 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 

Centlivre Stevenson, a Nottingham workman, also 
claimed the merit in this matter. 

An impediment to safety in having to move the points half a needle 
in knotting, was removed by placing horns on each side the machine, 
so as to prevent it at that moment from moving at all. This was a 
masterly arrangement ; but by whom devised is not known. 

Horton built his machines in great part thirty inches 
wide ; but two he constructed fifty-four inches in width. 
His workmen at Godalming were greatly excited at 
their size ; called them Gog and Magog, and refused to 
work a web upon them of more than thirty-six inches 
in width. At length a giant in strength, one Whitehorn, 
worked Magog in its full width for twenty years ; making 
fleecy great coats upon it, and driving it faster than 
ordinary hands could work frames of the usual width. 

Mr. Hooley of Nottingham infringed upon this patent. 
When legal proceedings were threatened, he removed 
to Scotland and there established a rival manufacture. 

Mr. Horton was a man of indefatigable industry ; 
and though he had realised a handsome fortune, yet, at 
an advanced age, was still to be seen repairing or im- 
proving his frames, with all the assiduity of his younger 
days. He was as remarkable for the simplicity of his 
tastes and habits as venerable for his years. He lived 
to see the dawn of the day when the hosiery manu- 
facture, by singularly unexpected developments in 
its machinery, was relieved from the deplorable dearth 
of employment and consequent miserable rate of 
wages, which during the latter half of his life, had so 
grievously reduced the condition of the greater por- 
tion of the hand-loom-workers in this trade. 

An imitation of knotted work was made by William 
Brockley, a poor working man of Nottingham, in 
1776. If made by one kind of operations they were 
called twilled, if by another plated goods. 

He applied to his machine as many ticklers as there were needles. 
He used them in a new method, simple and ingenious, and when once 
seen, very obvious. He placed projecting arms or ' dogs' to cover the 
tickler or horizontal sliding bars, modifying the use of these latter 
instruments ; he then made two or three courses of thread, one of 
them to be shogged one or two needles sideways according to the 
desired pattern. 

By this method the web lost its looped appearance 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. Ill 

and assumed a twilled face. By removing the twilled 
stitches to the right or left, a kind of stripe might be 
obtained. The article being non-elastic was after a 
time abandoned. 

These twilled goods could be made with a silk face 
outside and a cotton one inside, by carrying a cotton 
thread at the back and the front thread of silk. They 
were then called plated hose, were of brilliant appear- 
ance, and came at a moderate price. So long as the 
back was made of a double cotton yarn, they would 
wear well ; but when single yarn was introduced, 
the credit of plated goods rapidly declined, and the 
production became extinct. 

This adaptation of hosiery machinery was the means 
of giving for years a large amount of employment to 
workmen, and by its use several manufacturers gained 
fortunes. It led also to several other important and 
useful modifications. But the genius of Brockley met 
with no corresponding reward. No generous remem- 
brance of his past services to the trade reached his 
poverty-stricken dwelling ; and he died at Nottingham 
in very humble circumstances. 

Another of these ill-requited ingenious men was 
Mr. Robert Ash, a mechanic of Nottingham; who, in 
conjunction with Dal by of Leicester, about the year 
1781, devised and patented, No. 1300, a method for 
making " a new kind of fastened platted work." This 
was a machine to produce a twilled fabric that should 
be properly elastic, and have the exact appearance of 
the knotted hose, by the use of Brockley's twilling 
machinery, to which he added a long and knobbed 
wire. This divided the work by a double tickler. 
The loops were twilled in a very complicated but 
ingenious manner, the discovery of which presented 
points of great difficulty. The complexity of the 
machine may have prevented its extensive use ; thus 
rendering Ash one of the unfortunate inventors; yet 
its merits were such as to justify his claim to high 
credit as a mechanician. 

The article made from it was plated as well as 
elastic ; it was a close imitation of knotted twills, yet 
at less cost. But it was coarse in appearance, and was 



112 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 

in consequence chiefly exported to the West Indies and 
South America. 

An improvement upon this plan of Ash's, was made 
by Samuel Hague, who, in 1790, was enabled to take 
out a patent, No. 1777, for it, "as a machine added to 
the stocking-frame." 

It was for making elastic double knit goods, by placing an 
apparatus containing instead of the former wires others called stumps, 
cast into leads so that they operated over and parallel to each needle, 
and thus did away with the presser. 

This was called stump work, &c., an elastic and 
eventually a plated fabric, known as the product of the 
"mesh" machine of Eaton, Green, and Hague. Hague 
appears to have sold his invention to Messrs. Watson's, 
of Nottingham, on condition of receiving over and above 
his charges for applying the necessary apparatus, two 
guineas as a bonus for each stump machine they should 
employ through him. On some disagreement, the 
frames were placed in other workmen's hands, and 
Hague lost his reward, which he asserted had pre- 
viously been ill paid. This was not to be easily 
credited, considering the respectable position of the 
house in question, the smallness of the royalty, and 
beyond all, the peculiar characteristics and habits of the 
inventor, as narrated by Gr. Henson : 

"There was living in Nottingham at this time" (1770 to 1790) 
"Mr. Samuel Hague, one of the ablest yet most improvident of men. 
He had received an excellent education ; was by original trade a 
baker ; but followed several other occupations, chiefly that of a school- 
master, in which he has scarcely ever been equalled, notwithstanding 
his irregular habits. It is said, he could write at the same time with 
both hands ; could solve problems in Arithmetic and Algebra without 
figures by mere rumination ; even in his cups could rhyme extem- 
poraneously, not in mere doggerel but in genuine poetry. He knew 
music and sung well ; turning out in dark nights ' to raise the wind' 
by singing his own songs, and selling his auditors slips of old news- 
papers cut to resemble them put into print. But Hague was a great 
mechanic, and surpassed the greater part of his able contemporaries. 
By mere dint of genius he enabled himself to adjust the parts of 
machines and combine them, following the employment of a setter up 
for a considerable time. It was by the enlightened skill and per- 
severance of this versatile genius, that this elastic twilling machine 
was perfected." 

Hague had attempted so early as 1777 to solve the 
problem of making twist bobbin net, but without success. 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 113 

He used a horizontal warp, winding every other of its 
threads on a long- wire, which wires and threads were 
made to pass over and under the remaining threads. 
But he could not pass them more than half round, and 
abandoned the attempt, never after renewing it. 

He agreed, in connection with John Eaton, to take 
out a patent for the mesh machine, and having, amidst 
the vicissitudes of his changeful career, acquired some 
money, advanced it to Eaton for patent purposes. 
Eaton expended it in a most improper way, and 
returned from London without the patent. This so 
straitened Hague's circumstances that he never recovered 
from the loss, and died extremely poor. 

These wire, stump, and mesh stockings were more 
elastic than the original twilled ones, and so acquired 
the name of elastics. On all these kinds and their 
imitations the hose are made sideways, i.e. the width of 
the frame gives the length of the stocking; the frame 
is therefore twenty-eight to thirty-four inches wide. 
At one time 300 frames were employed on elastic work ; 
in 1830 they had dwindled down to fifty. For many 
years after these goods were first produced, they were 
much admired at home, and were also largely exported, 
especially to the West Indies. At length over-com- 
petition caused the hose to be reduced in size much 
below what they were called and sent out for ; the 
markets rejected such attempts at deception, and finally 
the articles ceased to be ordered, and the manufacture 
was ruined. 

In 1784 John Wehbe, of Birmingham, with Captain 
Whittle, of the Oxford Blues, took out a patent, No. 1417, 
for a simplification of the Derby rib with a more easy 
and perfect division. There were at one time 300 
of these machines worked at Banff, in Scotland, with 
great advantage. About 1790 Rhambolt took them to 
France, and many were constructed at Paris, being 
employed in the increasing hosiery trade of that city 
and elsewhere. 

Articles fitted to the size and shape of the upper 
part of the body, and to be used next to the skin for 
vests, drawers, &c., whether hand-knitted or machine- 
wrought, have always been found conducive to the com- 

i 



114 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 

fort and pleasure of the wearer. These have been made 
of animal wool on account of warmth, and cotton for 
economy in cost, and silk because of its useful electrical 
affinities. Bandaging of elastic hosiery web for surgical 
purposes has long been used. Such articles of hosiery to be 
made warm with fleecy insides in order to secure the ease 
and health of those who used them, and even to assist in 
the cure of some painful diseases, began to occupy the 
serious attention of Mr. George Holland, a hosier in 
London, some time before the year 1788. In that year 
he obtained a patent, No. 1670, for the manufacture of 
this class of goods, under the names of " Fleecy and 
Segovia hosiery, made from superior prepared wool 
for under-clothing. It is specially adapted for use by 
warmth, lightness, elasticity, and absorption qualities 
which it possesses in an eminent degree, to prevent, 
or at least operate beneficially in many chronic com- 
plaints." He took out in 1790, No. 1738, and in 
1782, No. 1901, patents for further improvements. By 
these Mr. Holland derived large pecuniary advantage. 

This house long retained under his successors the 
celebrity justly earned by their skill and attention to 
the peculiar processes, necessary to insure the confidence 
of the medical profession and of consumers, in the 
hyginenic qualities of this manufacture. The fibres of 
wool are laid on the stems of the needles of the stocking- 
frame in front of the web, and of the loops before they are 
pressed over the needle-heads. They arc by this means 
sufficiently incorporated with the inside of the web ; and 
yet will allow of being combed out into the soft fleecy 
covering required. 

In 1799 John Eaton patented, No. 2325, " a machine 
to be added to the hosiery-frame for producing elastic 
and stitch and plated hosiery." This seems to have 
been an unimportant change of the apparatus used for 
these purposes, combined with the common frame. 

In 1800 Thomas Penn patented, No. 2427, an im- 
proved mode of sinking, locking, pressing, drawing 
back the needle-bar and keeping up the jacks in the 
stocking-frame. As the object professed to be sought in 
this invention could only be obtained by the entire 
modification of the working parts of the stocking-frame, 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 115 

its not having been generally, if at all, adopted, shews 
that it was not approved. Nothing can now be known, 
except from the specification of its intrinsic value. 

The above closes the list of patents for inventions 
up to its date used in the manufacture of hosiery by 
machinery. Many others were obtained during the 
last half of the 18th century for the production of lace, 
upon the stocking-frame modified. These will form the 
subject of the next chapter. The present one will be 
concluded by a brief description of the occurrences 
transpiring during that interval, amongst those who 
were engaged in the trade. 

Notwithstanding the inventions by which the use of 
the stocking-frame was modified, the wages and profits 
realized upon the great bulk of the machinery in the 
trade from 1750 to 1780, were very slowly, partially, and 
indirectly benefitted by them. The trade still laboured 
under the constant influx of too many apprenticed boys 
and girls and non-freed workmen. This led in 1776-7, 
to the formation in the midland counties of a Stocking- 
makers' Association for Mutual Protection. This body 
became so powerful in Nottingham, as to influence, if not 
control, the return of members to Parliament in favour 
of their trade. Mr. Abel Smith was thus returned 
without opposition in 1778, when the members of this 
association marched in procession before his chair, which 
was gaily ornamented with the then newly invented 
white silk lace. Flags inscribed with mottoes indicating 
strength and unity were borne aloft, accompanied by 
two assistants, Mr. Reynolds, their clerk, and other 
deputies of the London Frame- Work-Knitters' in- 
corporated Company. These had come down with 
Pilkington their counsel, who brought with him a 
pamphlet written to aid specially upon the occasion. 
This formerly authoritative body had another oppor- 
tunity thus given them, of retreating from their coer- 
cive and unreasonable exactions, and by wise and 
timely measures, to have rendered themselves useful 
between the master hosiers and their discontented work- 
men. The novelty of high rents exacted for frames, 
with other charges, had not yet settled into a legalized 
custom ; the best of the journeymen and wisest of the 



116 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 

masters might have been conciliated, and the operation 
of the charter revived ; but the time was wasted in 
squabbles about fees, and the company lost almost its 
last hold on the trade. 

Petitions were presented to Parliament by Daniel 
Parker Coke, Esq., M.P. for Derby, during the Session 
1777-8, from the frame- work-knitters of London, and 
of the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Nottingham, 
Leicester, Derby, Northampton, and Gloucester stating 
that 

"The petitioners had served a regular apprenticeship to their 
business, but were unable with their utmost industry to obtain by 
their labour the common necessaries of life, by reason of low wages, 
frame rent, and other charges made upon them, incident to the 
working their frames and keeping them in repair " 

and asking for a Bill to settle and regulate their wages. 
This petition was referred to a select committee of the 
House of Commons, who reported in favour of a Bill 
to fix the rate of wages for each guage, size, and quality 
then made, being brought in. But this was refused 
upon a division, by fifty-two against twenty-seven. This 
Bill, if passed, would have been ineffectual, as it did not 
specify exact fineness in the kinds of work to be paid for. 
The employers in the silk branch of the trade 
soon after sought to reduce the prices paid for work, 
25 per cent., or Qd. to Wd. a pair; and great excitement 
was the immediate result This induced other classes in 
Nottingham to subscribe in aid of resisting this reduction. 
Mr. Meadows, one of the members for Nottinghamshire, 
introduced another Bill in 1779, having the same ob- 
jects as that of the previous year. This was strenuously 
supported by Mr. Robert Smith, (afterwards Lord 
Carrington), who said "the measure was moistened 
and saturated by the tears of the poor distressed fami- 
lies of frame-work-knitters." Leave was given to bring 
in the Bill with only one dissentient voice ; it was so 
introduced, therefore, at once ; and read a first time. 
The second reading was carried by twenty-four against 
twenty-three. But it was thrown out upon the third 
reading by a majority of fifty-seven to eighteen. Upon 
this great disappointment, riotous proceedings took place 
on the part of the workmen at Nottingham. Three 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 117 

hundred of Need's frames were broken, houses sacked, 
the riot act read, and soldiers called out before quiet 
was restored. 

The hosiers had formed a union of their own ; and 
issued an address after the ferment had subsided, stating 
that they would oppose all regulations, whether by 
charter or acts of Parliament, as tending to drive the 
manufacture to France, where workmen were contented 
with low wages. These results were repeated in 1783, 
and again in 1787 and 1790. 

Trade seems to have revived somewhat at the close 
of the war with our American colonies ; and wages in 
the hosiery business were improved. The hands em- 
ployed in making the usual plain cotton and worsted 
articles earned 10s. to 12s. ; in silk, 10s. to 14s. ; 
and those who were engaged in producing the goods 
from newly modified machines, as knots, twills, and 
elastics, could earn from 18s. to 30s. a week. Hose 
with long or eyelet hole clocks, increased the wages 
one-third above plain. 

By an enumeration of the stocking-frames in 1782, 
they amounted, in the three kingdoms, to about 20,000. 
There were only 500 in London, 200 in Surrey, 650 in 
Tewkesbury, 300 in Northamptonshire, a few in Scot- 
land, 700 in Dublin, and 300 in Cork. In the three 
midland counties there were found to be 17,350 ; and 
the business became from this epoch concentrated in 
Leicester, chiefly for woollen ; Derby, for silk ; and 
Nottingham, for cotton hosiery. The manufacture of 
hosiery in London was sustained on the very limited 
scale above indicated by theatrical and other bizarre 
orders for another half century. The last noticeable 
act of the London Company of Frame- Work-Knitters 
seems as strange as disrespectful to civic authority. 
In 1835 the corporation of London desired a sight of 
their letters patent, charter, and other records : but the 
requisition was peremptorily declined by the court of 
assistants. 

From 1780, in consequence of the system of rent- 
charge for the use of stocking-frames having become 
fully established, the construction of new machinery 
proceeded very rapidly for the next thirty years. The 



118 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 

cost bore so small a proportion to the rent, as to induce 
many persons not in the trade to purchase them. 

Mr. Gardiner, in Music and Friends^ vol. n. p. 810, gives 
a few interesting notes in regard to the early history of 
the manufacture of hosiery in Leicester, derived from 
his uncle Coltman, who was engaged in it in 1768. 
He states that : 

" One Allsop took a frame in 1670 to North Gate Street, Leicester, 
but from prejudice against tcovcn stockings, he found difficulty in 
vending his own work. However he took J. Parker of Leicester as 
his apprentice ; and in due time Parker took Samuel Wright a quaker 
for his apprentice. These are said to have been the only stocking- 
weavers in Leicester for some years. About 1 700 the making worsted 
hose became a trade in Leicester. In 1 750, when there were about 
1000 frames in the town, the principal manufacturers were 
Mr. Lewin, Messrs. Barns, Chamberlain and Burgess, Messrs. Cradock 
and Burney, Mr. Thomas Pougher, Mr. Eichard Garle, Sir Arthur 
Hazelrig, Mr. Joseph Cradock, Mr. John Williams, and Mr. William 
Miles. The chief articles made were white and brown thread hose ; 
the white thread was imported from Silesia ; the brown thread was 
obtained from Scotland. About 1000 dozen of worsted hose were 
made weekly for home consumption. The greater part of the dyeing 
and trimming of Leicester goods was done at Nottingham, where Elliott 
charged for dyeing hose black 3s. 6d. a dozen. The hose for the lower 
orders were at that time mostly of a pink colour ; those for the higher 
ranks were pearl-coloured with scarlet ancle clocks, made long enough 
to reach to the top of the thigh and to turn down towards the leg." 

The clever writer of this interesting work was a descen- 
dant of Thomas Gardiner, a Leicester bleacher, who first 
introduced the plan of whitening worsted hose by the 
fumes of sulphur. Thomas Gardiner, his son, born in 
1743, was placed when young with Chamberlain and 
Burgess, then the greatest hosiers in Leicester. 

" This house, and their fellow manufacturers, distributed their pro- 
ductions all over England, sending them on the backs of pack horses. 
William Gardiner, the author, was born in 1770 ; was apprenticed to, 
and afterwards in partnership with, Thomas, who died in 1837, aged 
ninety-four. They related, that in their earlier years every village 
had its wake ; the lower orders lived in comparative ease and plenty, 
having right of common for pig and poultry and sometimes for a cow. 
The stocking-makers each had a garden, a barrel of home-brewed ale, 
a workday suit of clothes and one for Sundays, and plenty of leisure, 
seldom working more than three days a week. Moreover, music" (of 
which Mr. Gardiner was an enthusiastic and well-versed amateur, ho 
says) " was much cultivated by some of them. Even so late as 1800 
the larger part of all the frames in Leicestershire were the property 
of the master frame- work-knitters, not of the hosiers." 



MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 119 

Although the statement that the Rev. Mr. Robinson, 
an inhabitant of Leicestershire, was the inventor of 
the stocking-frame, was not founded in fact, yet it was 
introduced very early into that county. It was taken 
in 1640 to Hinckley by one William Iliff; 150 years 
afterwards there were about 1000 frames at work there. 
It had become the centre of production for the coarser 
qualities of cotton and woollen hose, chiefly the former. 
Such it has remained through many vicissitudes to the 
present time. In 1844 there were 1750 frames, chiefly 
20 and 22-guages earning the miserable pittance of 
5s. 3d. a week. At the present time there are more 
frames than hands to work them, and the hands are 
receiving adequate wages. 

The use of cotton yarn as a material for machine- 
wrought hosiery, was at first necessarily very limited 
from its high price, being imported from India, where 
it was spun into fine numbers of single thread, and if 
destined to be made into stockings it was doubled, trebled, 
and even made into four and five-fold yarn. This 
duplication of the number of threads caused the hose to 
be so costly that to shew the fact, the custom was estab- 
lished of putting as many eyelet holes in the welt as 
there were threads in the yarn, and the plan became 
universal whatever the materials might be. But after a 
time, when two threads only were used in cotton yarn, 
and at length one thread carefully twisted was found to 
be workable, the hands were directed still to make the 
greater number of eyelet holes, and thus so far to deceive 
the purchaser as to the quality of the hose in regard to 
their wear. A petition to parliament in 1765, from the 
masters and work people of Tewkesbury, where there 
were about 600 frames, set forth this fraud as a grievance 
requiring legislative redress. An act was in consequence 
passed for that purpose, but it was so worded as not to 
be of any effect. Hose made of two threads and of single 
yarn have ever since been made and marked with as 
many eyelet holes as the hosier has pleased. But 
stockings made of the two-thread yarn, now produced 
of far superior regularity and consequent strength, 
having three-thread heels and toes, have so much 
greater durability than those made from single yarn, 



120 MODIFICATIONS OF THE HOSIERY-MACHINE. 

that as the cost of making them is alike, it is much to be 
regretted they cannot be more easily and with certainty 
discriminated by the buyer. The outcry of careful 
housewives when repairing fractures in their texture 
would be mitigated and the character of the hosiery 
trade better established.' 

It has been found by long observation and experience 
that the softness and pliability necessary to easy and 
safe working of cotton yarns in hosiery frames, by reason 
of the liability of harshness and irregularities to break 
the needles as well as to produce unsound work, is best 
secured by the use of South American (Pernambucca) 
cotton. Even with this as the raw material, hosiery 
yarn is the most difficult class to spin well. A long course 
of improvements have issued in fixing at Staley Bridge 
and Ashton-under-Lyne the larger part of this now 
very extensive and important business. From thence, 
Belper, and Cromford, hosiery yarn has long been dis- 
tributed to all parts of the world where the manufacture 
of hosiery is carried on. Mr. J. R. Allen, hosier, of 
Nottingham, placed in the London Exhibition 1862, 
an interesting series of hose manufactured by his father 
and himself. Amongst them were stockings made in 
1790, from five-thread cotton yarn spun by Arkwright, 
in the first cotton mill which was erected in Nottingham, 
and from two threads produced in Cromford Mill, spun 
successively in 1804, 1810, 1812, 1815, 1826. The 
advance towards excellence of quality in the materials, 
was clearly perceptible throughout. There were goods 
from "Lisle" thread made in the years 1848 to 1858, 
shewing great improvement also in the quality of the 
yarn. This " Lisle" or "Scotch" thread, as it is some- 
times called, is higher twisted and prepared with special 
care for gloves and hose of a fine texture, the looping 
being clear and of great regularity. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



HAND MADE LACE. 

IT was by various modifications of the stocking- 
frame that lace was first made upon machinery. These 
changes were continued through the years intervening 
between 1760 and 1800. The business was established, 
and, as respects the hosiery manufacture, for the most 
part separately carried on from the former date; and 
this included a course of mechanical improvements 
down to the present time. It will be desirable at this 
point of separation, and for the better comprehension 
of the subject of lace, to state briefly the nature and 
previous history of that fabric itself; the latter, so far 
as can be gathered from the notices which have come 
down to us in ancient writings, and in the monumental 
representations of this kind of ornament, which have 
survived the ravages of time. 

Dr. Johnson defines net- work to be " anything 
reticulated or decussated at equal distances with in- 
terstices between the intersections." This is a very 
correct, though not a popular explanation ; happily the 
thing itself is sufficiently known so as not to require more 
than a description of the principal modes in which the 
work is performed. The varieties of net-work are 
almost infinite ; the methods of production must be 
equally diversified. 

Nature herself was the first to exemplify, and that 
in the most beautiful and perfect form, the learned 
Doctor's definition. Whether the first thought of lace 
as an ornament was derived from a plant cannot be 
known; but its most perfect forms have ever been 
obtained from leaves and flowers. 

Mr. Ellis, in his work on Madagascar, thus describes 
that singularly interesting plant, the " Ouvirandra 



122 HAND MADE LACE. 

Fenistralis," or " lace leaf," introduced by him into 
England. It may be seen at Kew Gardens and else- 
where : 

" This is not only a very curious, but to the natives, a very valuable 
plant as an article of food. It is singularly beautiful both in structure 
and colour. From the several crowns of the branching root, growing 
often a foot or more deep in the water, a number of graceful leaves 
nine or ten inches long and two or three inches wide, spread out 
horizontally just beneath the surface of the water. The flower stalks 
rise from the centre of the leaves, and the branching forked flower 
is curious, but the structure of the leaf is peculiarly so, and seems 
like a living fibrous skeleton, rather than an entire leaf. The longi- 
tudinal fibres extend in curved lines along its entire length, and are 
united by thread-like fibres or veins, crossing them at right angles 
from side to side at a short distance from each other. The whole leaf 
looks as if composed of fine tendrils, wrought after a most regular 
pattern, so as to resemble a piece of bright green lace or open needle- 
work. Each leaf rises from the crown on the root, like a short delicate 
looking fibre, pale green or yellow, gradually unfolding its feathery 
looking sides, and increasing its size as it spreads beneath the water. 
The leaves in the several stages of growth pass through almost every 
gradation of colour from a pale yellow to a dark olive green ; becoming 
brown or even black before they finally decay ; air bubbles of con- 
siderable size frequently appear under full formed and healthy leaves. 
It is scarcely possible to imagine any object of the kind more attrac- 
tive and beautiful than a full-grown specimen of this plant, with its 
dark green leaves forming the limit of a circle two or three feet in 
diameter ; and in the transparent water within that circle, presenting 
leaves in every stage of development both as to colour and size. Nor 
is it the least curious to notice, that these slender and fragile structures, 
apparently not more substantial than gossamer and flexible as a 
feather, still possess a tenacity and wiryness, which allows the delicate 
leaf to be raised by the hand to the surface without injury." 

Natural objects of such graceful forms as those here 
described, and which abound in tropical regions, were 
the subjects of imitation in Eastern embroidery from 
the most ancient times; and needlework, if not the 
sister, must have been the mother of some of those 
kinds of fine net-work which were used as ornaments 
in female dress. In more modern times, and in Europe, 
this is known to have been the course of events ; needle- 
work lace preceded that made on the pillow. 

But for many ornamental purposes the more simple 
method of making nets, such as were used in their 
every day life, would be employed in producing fringes 
and other large objects. The idea was so natural as 
to occur to any mind, above all a female one. 



HAND MADE LACE. 123 

Making nets by the hand for fowling, hunting, 
and fishing, had been without doubt practised from the 
most ancient times. Such nets are represented on the 
monuments of Babylon, Nineveh, and Egypt. So 
universal was their use, that, literally or metaphorically, 
they are found as illustrations in the most ancient 
writings of every nation. The pages of the Old Testa- 
ment furnish examples. Job says "lie is cast into a 
net by his own feet," " God hath compassed me with 
His net." There does not seem to have been any 
material alteration in the instrument used to produce 
these common articles, during the long intervening 
series of ages ; or in the way in which the mesh was 
formed, knotted, and fastened. 

The needle or shuttle, upon or in which the net- 
maker placed his supply of corded string or line, was 
passed just as it ever has been through the loop he had 
opened, and the thread was tied into a firm knot, in- 
capable of slipping, at the exactly measured distance 
from the last formed one. 

Almost as soon as these nets are named by any of 
these old authors, lace is mentioned ; not only as a 
cord, but also as an ornamental part of dress. Lace 
may be described as plain or ornamented net-work, 
consisting of a thread or threads of flax, cotton, silk, 
gold, or silver ; interwoven, drawn, platted, looped, or 
twisted so as to form a beautiful texture. Articles of 
female attire, depicted in paintings on the walls of 
Egyptian and Nubian temples and tombs, are believed 
to represent such net-works in looped or darned crochet, 
on patterned hems of garments. On one of the Egyptian 
pictures in the great temple of Ombos, the goddess Athos 
wears a head-dress resembling lace. Rosselini, in 
plate 41 of his great work on Egypt, shews two figures 
who appear to be twisting two threads, and forming 
what seems to be a reticulated open work. At p. 79, 
neck coverings are seen, but whether of twisted 
or Srawn open net-work cannot be ascertained. But 
at p. 96 the ends of musical instruments are orna- 
mented with netted tassels, each mesh having a nob 
or knot suspended from it. At pp. 98 and 99 are figured 
transparent dresses of females, ornamented seemingly 



124 HAND MADE LACE. 

with beads, but whether on needle-work lace is tin- 
certain. At p. 133 is a female figure whose shoulders 
are covered by a worked tippet of handsome appearance, 
the pattern of which might have been of drawn needle- 
work. Fringed borders were certainly applied to 
Egyptian articles of dress. 

A lace of blue is thrice mentioned in Exodus, and 
was probably a fringed narrow lace or braid. Fringes 
are expressly named in Numbers and Deuteronomy; 
and knotted fringes became amongst that people through 
many ages of significant religious import. But whether 
the early Israelites made them of drawn needle-work 
for ornament, it is impossible to say with certainty. 
Beckman thinks these laces spoken of by Moses were 
merely cords or fringes of twined texture. 

Needle-work and lace are much mixed up together 
in historic relations and descriptions. This is not sur- 
prising, seeing that all the lace produced before the 
middle of the 16th century, was either made by drawing 
the threads of fine cloth in various directions by the 
needle, and securing them so as to form meshes and 
figures composed of interstices and cloth-work, to which 
might be added embroidery ; or by cutting the cloth 
ground and inserting braids of narrow breadths, woven 
or platted, to be used in forming figures, by being 
joined together at the points required by the pattern. 
It is possible also that the lace fringes might be 
made in those early times, as they have been exten- 
sively in the middle ages, by taking away the weft 
from the ends of cloth pieces or leaving the warp 
threads unwoven, and then platting them by hand into 
various meshes and geometric figures, leaving the loose 
unplatted ends of thread to form the fringe. Threads 
might be loosely inserted on the sides of any article, 
and netted and knotted in a similar way. In all this 
kind of work the needle and hook would be principally 
used. 

The Greeks, in Homer's time, employed themselves 
not only in embroidery, for which they were famous, 
both as to their designs and colours, but also in fine 
needle-work for veils and head-dresses, and in net 
works. There is a marble statue of Diana at Portici, and 



HAND MADE LACE. 125 

the goddess is represented as dressed in a purple gar- 
ment edged with lace, an inch and a half broad, exactly 
resembling ' point' lace. The nearest approach to 
reticulated lace in Hope's Costumes of the Ancients, 
seems to be those figured on the borders of the dresses 
of Grecian females at pp. 103, 105, and 129, of vol. n. ; 
most probably they are needle-wrought open works ; 
and many of the patterns are so artistic and beautiful as 
to be worthy of study by our modem designers for 
manufactures. Phrygian embroidery was of surpassing 
excellence. 

Writers who believe that reticulated lace was well 
known to the Greeks, assert that the custom of wearing 
it was introduced with other Hellenic fashions into 
Rome, that it soon spread over Italy as an article of 
female luxury, and that it became, in consequence, an 
important branch of Italian manufactures in the age of 
the Antonines. 

It was customary for the earlier Christian females to 
wear veils during divine worship. But after the time of 
Titus, some Christian writers complain of the rule being 
evaded by ladies, vain of their charms, wearing a kind 
of net-work embroidered by the needle. This may 
probably be the origin of the modern lace veils. The 
Latin term 'Lacinia' dignifying a guard hem or fringes 
of a garment, from which our name 'lace' is derived, 
affords presumptive evidence that the Romans had 
articles of somewhat similar construction ; yet netted- 
work like that in our military sashes was not known by 
them ; they had no word for it. Their meshes were 
called 'maculae' and 'nodi.' 

The practice of making the kinds of lace just de- 
scribed, spread over every part of Greece and Italy; 
the islands of the ^Egean sea, Cyprus, Malta, and Sicily. 
It entered into Spain from the Mediterranean, and into 
France from Genoa, and into Germany from Venice. 
These two Italian cities were for many ages famous 
for the manufacture and exportation of their needle- 
work lace. Soon after the art reached the Flemings, 
and through them, it is thought, England. During the 
long middle ages of European feudalism, there was 
scarcely a castle where this needlework was not the 



126 HAND MADE LACE. 

recreation of the ladies of the household ; or a convent 
where the greater part of the inmates did not make it 
their lifelong and most assiduous employment. Almost 
all articles of dress for males and females, and especially 
the vestments of priests and coverings of altars, were 
adorned with lace of appropriate texture and designs. 
Sheets and pillow-cases were bordered with lace ; and 
not seldom coverlits were themselves covered with net- 
works of magnificent patterns and execution. Monks 
eagerly engaged in designing patterns for their sister 
recluses ; in which pious recreation even Dunstan con- 
descended to join. When the art of printing was 
discovered in Europe, such books of patterns were 
printed with the requisite instructions for lady workers 
in their fabrication of lace. English needle- work lace 
was preferred for a long time to that of the continent. 
A specimen of it still preserved, being the embroidered 
cope and manciple of St. Cuthbert in the chapter-house 
at Durham, is said to be beautiful beyond description. 
For the protection of this native industry, which was 
much cultivated under the Plantagenets much fine 
work for the court and for tournaments being then made 
acts were passed prohibiting the importation into 
England of laces of thread, and laces of gold, and of 
silk and gold, in 1483, 1 Richard III., c. 10; and again 
19 Henry VII., c. 21, and 5 Elizabeth, c. 7. The im- 
portation of laces of each of these kinds, whether from 
Flanders, Spain, or England, into France, had become 
so large, that it became there also a ground of royal 
interference and prohibition. 

Another class of needle-work lace was added to those 
already described. This was called cut-ivork, because 
the larger interstices were cut out with scissors from the 
muslin, and the edges secured by the darning-needle or 
crochet-stitch. 

These various kinds of needle-work lace had reached 
a high degree of perfection in most European countries, 
when the art of making pillow lace was invented, about 
the middle of the 10th century. Some early writers 
asserted that it was discovered in Flanders, but by 
whom, and when, is not stated. After much laborious 
investigation bestowed by inquirers in after ages, it has 



HAND MADE LACE. 127 

been almost universally attributed to Barbara, the wife 
of Christopher Uttmann; she was dwelling with her 
1ms band at the castle of St. Annaberg, on the borders 
of Saxony, and there invented the art in 1561. 

" This is the unanimous affirmation of all annalists in that part 
of Saxony. And from the castle where she had taught it to the 
peasantry, as in a school, it soon spread amongst all the wives and 
daughters of the miners in that district, who found making this lace 
more productive than their former employment of embroidering veils 
according to the Italian practice, and soon supplanted them as an 
article of commerce." (See the History of Annaberg, by Paul Jenisco. 
Dresden, 1605.) 

No traces of this mode of netting, twisting, or 
platting threads, drawn from spools or bobbins into 
lace, by passing them round pins upon a cushion, can 
be found used before this time, nor any terms appro- 
priate to it ; furnishing strong presumption that this 
was the time and place of the invention. Barbara 
Uttmaim saw sixty-four of her children and grand- 
children, and died in 1575, aged 60. That she was 
the true inventress is recorded on her tomb. 

As an introduction to the more intricate and difficult 
operations necessary to the manufacture of ornamented 
hand lace ; the art of making plain pillow lace may be 
thus described : 

A number of threads are attached to a round pillow, each hanging 
down in front of the cushion, and being attached to a bobbin supply- 
ing it with thread and serving for a weight. Each pair of adjacent 
threads is then twisted three half turns, by throwing the bobbins 
over each other. The twisted threads are then severally separated, 
and crossed over pins stuck into the face of the cushion in a row. 
The like twist is then made by every pair of adjacent threads not 
before twisted, whence the threads become united sideways in meshes 
or loops. Lastly, by repeating the separation and twisting, and pro- 
ceeding onwards, the plain net fabric is made of any required length. 

This course of dealing with the threads on the part 
of the pillow lace worker in making plain reticulations 
or meshes, being carefully considered and well under- 
stood, will much assist the reader in comprehending 
the subsequent elaborate processes by which ornamented 
lace is produced. 

To mechanise the fabrication of the plain meshes, 
constructing them as above described, was a wonderful 
effort of genius. To introduce mechanical ornamenta- 



128 HAND. MADE LACE. 

tion, has tasked to the utmost other and perhaps not 
less able minds. Every one of the crowd of inventors 
and modifiers of lace machinery have studied, with 
more or less assiduity, the additional methods of pro- 
cedure about to be described. This cannot be more 
accurately done than by following the course explained 
in the Encyclopaedia Francaise, article " Dentelle" : 

"This is a work in gold, silver, silk, or linen; made upon a 
cushion by the use of a great number of small bobbins, a design 
traced upon paper, and two sorts of pins, and which may be looked 
upon as a composition of gauze, weaving, and embroidery. Of 
embroidery, because there are many ' points ' and thick threads 
introduced ; of weaving, for there are parts where there are proper 
warp and weft, and where the tissue is the same as that of the weaver ; 
of gauze, because patterns are executed upon it, and the threads 
which might have been considered as being warp and weft, are often 
withdrawn from each other by crossings. Of three things, one is 
necessary, in making lace on the cushion. Either to compose or make 
it from one's own ideas, which supposes imagination, design, taste, 
knowledge of many 'points,' facility of employing them, and even 
invention of other meshes ; or, to be able to work out a pattern given 
on paper; or, to copy a lace already made, given for the purpose, 
which supposes less talent, but a perfect knowledge of the art. It is 
then usually necessary to copy from designs pricked carefully on 
vellum. The art of the ' piquer' is to discern exactly the points 
where the pins must be placed, in order to keep out the threads in 
the proper position to form the designed meshes, &c. ; to ascertain 
by careful examination all the ' points' needful to carry out the course 
of working ; composed as it is, of sometimes intermingled points, and 
sometimes points succeeding each other. If a mesh be triangular, 
three pins would be necessary ; if quadrangular, four ; and one pin 
must also be placed in the centre to produce the opening required. 

"The work- woman by counting the threads that need to be sup- 
plied, knows exactly the number of bobbins (fuseaux), 60, 80, 100, 
150, 200, &c. which will be required; and each is filled sufficiently 
with thread. Placing a large pin on the cushion, and having fastened 
the threads of as many bobbins as she can attach to this pin, so 
that there shall not be any thread given off unnecessarily, she places 
and fills a second, third, fourth, &c. in a horizontal line with the first, 
till all are fixed that are necessary. The pattern is then placed behind 
the pins. It is not difficult to learn the mode of making any sort of 
mesh or point, if the threads, of which it is found to be composed, 
be each numbered as 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, &c., if so many are used 
in it. Let these numbers be invariably considered as attached to the 
same threads and bobbins. Think of the first that goes from left to 
right or right to left as No. 1, the second as No. 2, and so on. When- 
ever a bobbin is displaced, consider it a new arrangement of the 
whole. Have paper at hand and write the positions down, in order 
to become perfectly acquainted with them ; as 4 and 4, or 8 and 8, &c. 
until they are well arranged in the mind and understood. Thus a 
knowledge of the ' points' may be quickly obtained, and the habit of 



HAND MADE LACE. 120 

managing, arranging, and finding again the bobbins will bo acquired ; 
BO that in a week all that is wonderful in the art of lace-making will 
disappear ; at least, so the writer found it to do. 

" Twisting is accomplished by passing the threads round each other 
BO many times more or less as is desired for the mesh. First the two 
next to one another ; then the next two ; afterwards taking one of 
each of these and twisting it with its neighbour, before twisting else- 
where. The ' coronne' (crown, cross, or knott) is necessary to com- 
plete the mesh ; and its formation closes up and ties or binds the work. 

"Linen work is simply passing these threads from No. 1 to No. 3, 
2 to 1, 4 to 2, and 3 to 4. There is no twist. Then leaving the two 
bobbins which are most to the left-hand and taking the other two that 
immediately follow on the left, they pass from left to right, putting 
2 on 3, and going on as before. The first movement differs, the rest 
are the same. Then it was 1 on 3, now it is 2 on 3. Weaving or 
cloth work is always finished by a mesh (reseau). The method of 
making meshes, cloth work, &c. being understood, new designs may 
be easily produced, new ' points' devised and executed, and thus sur- 
prising patterns be wrought, filled with previously unknown arrange- 
ments of threads. 

"The name 'dentelle' appears to have been given from the 'picot' 
(pearl) on the edge, arranged like small teeth. Differences in these points, 
designs, and work, distinguish the different parts and kinds of lace ; 
as la neige, le reseau, la bride, la four, point de Valenciennes, Mechlin, 
Alengon, English, and others, which supply these beautiful and precious 
ornaments of female attire." 

This talented French writer seems to have found it 
comparatively easy to follow and comprehend the intricate 
movements of which he gives the course and summary. 
It has not been so with others in their endeavours to 
master the various details. Perhaps those who may 
read these pages may find some difficulty. But all will 
agree that Barbara Uttmann must have been a woman 
possessed of an analytic mind, great genius, strong 
memory, and unwearied patience, to have devised and 
executed such a plan, capable of infinite variety in 
design, and perfect beauty in its execution. Still more 
to have successfully devoted the remainder of her life 
to teaching it without ostentation or reward, to the 
peasantry of her neighbourhood ; and leaving it a legacy 
of ever increasing value to her country and the world, 
was indicative of a noble and benevolent heart. Her 
memory is yet revered around St. Annaberg for her skill 
and patriotism ; and will continue to be honoured as the 
inventress and foundress of a manufacture so justly 
prized and admired. 

It is probable that in the first instance a series of 

K 



130 HAND MADE LACE. 

plain meshes only was produced, and used as a ground 
for the application of ornamental work by the needle 
or hook, with which work many around were practically 
acquainted. But it is certain that before long cloth 
work, open work, thick threading, and other things 
necessary to give effect to a pattern, were introduced 
in the manner now universally employed in making 
pillow goods. This new mode of making lace speedily 
became known over the north of Europe ; and the 
articles thus made came into so large a demand as to 
require many women to be taught the art. In Flanders 
the manufacture soon becoming thoroughly established, 
very large schools for children to learn lace making 
were set up ; and in these, excellent goods both in 
design and execution have ever since been made in 
large quantities. Brussels, Malines, Antwerp, Bruges, 
Valenciennes, and Ghent have been, and continue to be, 
justly celebrated for the variety and beauty of their 
respective kinds of lace. From some of these places 
articles were shewn in the recent International Exhibi- 
tions of almost priceless value. 

The French applied themselves early to this manu- 
facture; and Colbert in 1666 obtained the royal sanc- 
tion to measures for its thorough settlement in Paris 
and the provinces. The Count de Nassau brought his 
nurse Dumont from Brussels ; and as she perfectly 
understood lace making upon the pillow, he obtained 
for her the sole privilege of manufacturing the article. 
She taught more than 200 young women, many of them 
of good families, w r ho soon made lace equal in quality 
to that imported. From thence the business spread 
almost throughout France. Of its variety, extent, and 
importance in value of products and numbers employed, 
an admirable account was given by M. Aubry, in his 
report to the International Jury, in 1851, upon the lace 
trade of France. 

It is said this manufacture came to England from 
Flanders by the instrumentality of refugees who settled 
at Chalfont in Bedfordshire. This is uncertain ; but not 
so, that we owe much to the endeavours made here to 
imitate the excellences of Flemish lace the superiority 
of which still remains incontestible. In this, as in other 



HAND MADE LACE. 



131 



countries, it was thought necessary to teach children 
at too early an age. A school was set up for this pur- 
pose at Great Marlow in 1626; and about 1650 the 
cushion lace trade was flourishing in Buckinghamshire, 
from whence it extended into Northamptonshire. At 
Iloniton there was early established the production of 
flowers and sprigs, in imitation of the bouquets and floral 
ornamentation common in one class of rich Brussels lace, 
and which were usually sewn upon a plain net of three- 
twist or platted ground. Shawls of this kind were sold 
for from twenty to one hundred guineas. These sprigs 
whether of Brussels or Honiton make are now ordinarily 
applied to a three-twist net wrought on the machine. 

The earliest pillow lace made in this country, as 
shewn in the portraits painted by Vandyke, Lely, and 
Kneller, was Brussels ' point,' the net-work made of 
thread drawn off bone bobbins (the origin of the English 
name bone lace) upon the pillow ; the pattern and 
sprigs embroidered by the needle. This was superseded 
about 1730 by the Old Mechlin ground and wire ground, 
both of which were very durable and of rich artistic 
designs. The Trolly ground came into fashion about 
1750, wrought in coarse angular and ugly figures of 
the most vulgar taste possible. The re-introduction of 
the Old French ground, nearly the most ancient known, 
was a happy change ; and it remained in partial use for 
about seventy years. 

In 1777-8 a new article in the 'point' ground was 
brought from the Netherlands. From its first appear- 
ance may be dated the origin of the modern English 
pillow lace trade. The peculiar construction of the 
ground renders the article light and elegant. For the 
first twenty-five years the patterns of the English 
1 point' goods were poor and spiritless. Between 1800 
and 1812 a change to a freer and bolder style took 
place, and the improvement and increase of the manu- 
facture was unprecedented. The entire English cushion 
lace trade had so far extended in 1800 as to employ at 
least 150,000 hands. In 1830 it was stated by petition 
to Queen Adelaide that 120,000 persons were dependent 
upon the business. The numbers employed in France 
and Belgium, in making cushion lace, had been very 

K'2 



132 HAND MADE LACE. 

greatly reduced by revolution and war ; in England by 
change of fashion, and in some degree by competition 
with machine made 'point' and 'warp' goods. But both 
here and on the continent a reaction has steadily set 
in ; so that there are at present more persons employed 
in making pillow lace than at any former period of its 
history. With this increasing demand for the best hand 
made lace generally, special search has been carried on 
for old hand made lace of every kind. Thus a curious 
practice has arisen latterly. It had been the custom 
in some places on the coasts and in the islands of the 
Mediterranean in past ages, for the rich bridal lace 
robes and veils never to be re-worn, until the corpse of 
her who once before was adorned by them was re- 
clothed in them preparatory to her interment. Vaults 
have been rifled, and these precious and often magnifi- 
cent articles, so eagerly sought after in the markets of 
Brussels, Paris, and London, have been brought into 
the hands of dealers, who know how to appreciate their 
worth, and, through them, add for ages to the charms 
of living beauty. 

Whether regard be paid to the intricacy and delicacy 
of the work, the numbers employed upon it, its varied 
and extraordinary excellence, and ultimate commercial 
value, the subject of hand wrought lace is of great 
interest. A perusal of Mrs. Bury Palliser's splendid 
and exhaustive volume is conclusive upon this. The 
illustrative plates given by her are invaluable. 

It has been thought necessary to enter thus far into 
the history of the manufacture of lace by hand, inas- 
much as it is to imitate the productions of its fullest 
and last developement by the cushion, both in its 
meshes and ornamentation of the ground, that the 
thoughts and efforts of mechanical lace makers have 
been directed for the past half century. 



CHAPTER IX. 



LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 

IT is now necessary to trace the course whereby the 
productions of the intricate manual art described in the 
last chapter have been successfully imitated. Nearly 
every known mesh, certainly every useful one, has been 
mechanically produced, and into most of them elaborate 
and tasteful designs have been introduced, so that the 
articles made on the machine are often distinguished 
with difficulty from those made by hand. This has 
been necessarily a slow process and a very costly one. 
It was exactly a century ago, 1760 to 1770, that Crane, 
Else, and Harvey in London, Hammond, John Lindley, 
sen., Holmes, Robert Frost, in Nottingham, were en- 
gaged in efforts to make lace net upon the stocking- 
frame, as well as the fancy hosiery already described. 
These attempts were for a long time confined to this 
machine, seeking by alteration of its arrangements and 
suitable additions to it, to obtain the desired results. 
So far as plain nets were in question, they were in due 
time successful in producing looped articles of perfect 
regularity, and so highly appreciated as to lay the 
foundation for the present machine wrought lace manu- 
facture, whether domestic or foreign. It was reserved 
for a much later epoch to witness the production by 
machinery of a net composed of twisted meshes like 
that from the pillow. 

The twilling machine before named was amongst 
the first which were subjected to modifications for the 
purpose of obtaining different meshes and kinds of net. 
The interval between 1770 and 1780 was distinguished 
for experiments in the leisure hours of workmen at the 
fancy stocking-frame, in forming meshes by hand, which 
led eventually to many discoveries in the mode of 



134 LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 

making them mechanically. Some of these newly 
invented kinds of lace at once took a position in the 
market, and for several years gave considerable employ- 
ment to hands and machinery. In these the tickler- 
machine was made the chief instrument for the removal 
of loops and consequent formation of meshes. The 
1 spoon tickler,' covering two needles and delivering the 
stitch on both, was probably invented by John Lindley, 
sen., and introduced by Thomas Taylor, a framesmith 
of Nottingham. 

Hammond, who had added 'dogs' to this machine, 
was one of these workmen conversant with the meshing 
art, but who had so little application and self-govern- 
ment, as to render his knowledge of very uncertain 
practical use. Both himself and his wife were of in- 
temperate habits. On one occasion in 1768, being 
together at a public-house in Nottingham without money, 
credit, or regular employment, Hammond cast his eye 
on the broad lace border of his wife's cap and a lace 
caul, and thought he could imitate the fabric. Having 
borrowed some silk, he went to work upon his frame at 
his home in the Rookery, and produced a net which 
with the assistance of his wife was made into caps 
having somewhat the appearance of lace, which he sold 
quickly. He called the article, though without any 
actual resemblance, i Valenciennes Lace.' 

This net was produced by using a tickler to every other needle, 
and removing every other loop to the next needle but one ; and the 
remaining loop to the second needle the other way in the next course. 
This was technically called 'cross stitch,' or 'wire ground Brussels' 
He afterwards removed both stitches to the left two needles, and next 
course both stitches two needles to the right, thus forming what he 
termed ' double cross-stitch Valenciennes.' 

On this mode of operating by the added machine, 
nets suitable for mitts, gloves, and purses were made. 
But it is difficult if not impossible to understand how 
anything beyond a net web of interstices formed with 
four irregular sides could be thus produced. It is 
certain that this was a step towards making looped lace 
net. But equally so, that to ascribe to Hammond, as is 
popularly done, the honour of producing by machine an 
imitation of cushion lace and of making Bobbin net, is 



LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 135 

incorrect. His net was without a single characteristic 
of these articles. He was probably the first to make a net 
from the stocking-frame, though that is not quite certain. 

His production was however very saleable, and he 
obtained by making it a precarious income, only labour- 
ing at irregular intervals, to supply the most pressing 
necessities, " working by day, and drinking by night; 
thus passed several years of the life of this original 
machine wrought lace manufacturer." 

This year 1768 was also remarkable for the applica- 
tion of a kind of warp frame to the stocking-machine 
by Crane of Edmonton, where may be traced the origin 
of the warp machine, to which a subsequent chapter will 
be devoted. Also for the construction by Else and 
Harvey of the pin-machine, elsewhere referred to, upon 
the transmission of which to Nottingham in about 1770, 
a further important advance was made in the manu- 
facture of lace net, and consequent employment of 
capital and labour there. 

Each of these kinds of net it must be borne in mind 
were made by the looping of one continuous thread 
formed into meshes across the machine, and therefore 
liable on being broken to unrove, moreover at first the 
size of the mesh was irregular. 

The meshes of cushion lace have three to six equal 
sides, usually the latter, and to exactly imitate such nets 
by machinery, was the object of much thought arid effort. 

An article called l two plain net' was made, by using one tickler 
for every third needle, leaving two needles plain in every course. Of 
the three stitches, one was removed to the second needle on the left, 
and of the two stitches remaining unmoved, in the next course the 
stitch was taken from the right-hand needle and delivered two needles 
to the right, upon the needle on which the former stitch had been 
placed. Thus a kind of hexagon mesh was produced. By moving 
a rack handle the loops could be removed at will, and patterns would 
be the result. 

Shortly after some unknown person devised a great 
improvement by so removing some of the stitches as to 
leave large interstices like the open works in real lace. 
These have acquired the name of ' bullet holes' ; and 
inasmuch as l eyelet hole' hose had been subjected to 
embroidery, that obvious improvement was soon added 
by surrounding these large interstices with needlework. 



136 LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 

This was the humble beginning of the vast business 
of lace running, in which, through subsequent lengthened 
periods, 150,000 females were employed in ornamenting 
lace net of various kinds as they successively appeared 
and flourished. 

A stocking-maker, named Holmes, with the assistance 
of Mr. Robert Frost, invented this ' two plain' plan. 
The former was evidently an ingenious man, but died 
poor. The method was used from 1777 ; in 1790 there 
were more than 200 frames on with it; in 1817 one 
Wightman was the only person making it. It was 
carried into France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, and 
many frames were employed upon it abroad. Some 
have believed that this was the first lace-niaking-frame 
that was ever arranged. 

The Robert Frost above spoken of, obtained in 1777 
a patent for making an article called ' square net,' upon 
a machine whose arrangements and principal movements 
are founded on the Derby rib frame. 

The net is formed by the use of the tuck presser and knotted 
points. In its first operation, the web was made having one needle 
looped and one not looped. The loop was knotted by being placed 
on the next needle on each side. In the next course the looping 
and knotting were reversed ; the tuck being on the needle before 
looped. There was a further bar fixed to the added knotting-machine, 
having only a point to every other needle. It had an additional 
bar also to which horns were affixed. The point bar moved to and 
fro, so that the points might be applied to this or that needle without 
affecting the horns. The pressed stitches were then knotted on the 
unpressed ones both ways, the machine being used twice every course 
for that purpose. Thus by varying the presser and points one 
needle every course,* square fast meshes were produced. 

This net was very lustrous and durable ; so that it 
was well adapted for mitts, gloves, purses, shawls, &c. 
Indeed it was strong enough to be used for the founda- 
tion of wigs. But it was costly in proportion. Not 
more than forty machines were employed in making it, 
and it is now almost forgotten. Attempts to make 
square net on knotted frames did not succeed till 1798. 

According to Henson, the last person who made 
work on one of these frames was a frame-work-knitter 
in Spitalfields, who about 1834 produced square net 
for Mr. Thompson, of Phoenix street, London. The 
latter was called the father of all stocking-makers ; for his 



MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 



137 



ancestor had been a journeyman to Mr. Lee, the in- 
ventor of the frame. 

It may here be mentioned, that long after in 1808, 
a great improvement was made in the tuck presser by 
casting- stumps with grooved ends into broad leads 
screwed on a moving slide on the presser. They acted 
as teeth in the pressing slide, and thus worked more 
safely. 

' Flowered net' was obtained by leaving some parts 
plain in the shape of flowers, &c. 

The ticklers were not cast into leads : but were made from thick 
wire beaten out broad at the bottom end, where, through a hole 
a wire was passed lengthwise like a spindle on to the tickler bar, 
and they were acted upon by a lever motion. Where the patterns 
required' plain work, the ticklers which would have there acted were 
turned upwards by a roller, on which the patterns were set like 
tunes on an organ barrel. 

This was said to be also the invention of Mr. Robert 
Frost. 

1 Spider net' was of a very slight texture, in which the 
figure of that insect or any other figure might be 
wrought. It continued in use but a few years, and 
no description of the machine on which it was made 
has survived it. 

From the specific character, which may be easily 
traced through the various modifications applied to the 
machine added to the stocking-frame, and its modes of 
operation, it was almost inevitable that ingenuity ap- 
plied by many minds should, even without concert, be 
successfully directed to some plan, whereby not only 
a perfectly regular six-sided mesh should be produced, 
but one so constructed as to be sound and durable 
as well as beautiful. This was accomplished by the 
construction of what became known as the ' point net' 
machine. 

In this invention both Strutt's machine and Betts' modification 
of it were used : the top arms were moved from side to side ; instead 
of machine needles perpendicularly acting between the frame needles, 
a new series of instruments were placed on the machine needle-bar, 
equal in number to the needles in the frame-bar. Each was in the 
form of a barleycorn, with its long blade (or point} ; the underside was 
made flat, and had two eyes to fit on the heads of two needles. 
The blades of these points or ticklers were thin enough to pass 
between the needles. The work was performed principally by two 



138 LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 

operations. By the first, the thread passing round two loops made 
a series of arches ; by the second, on the thread being removed 
from the base of these arches, another higher series of arches was 
made ; and when the work quitted the needles, both series of arches 
took a straight line, and regular six-sided meshes were formed, 
which, when the net was stiffened, were equal in beauty to the 
meshes of real plain net. When wet or even damp, this net, however, 
as first made, shrunk into a fabric looking like crape. 

The manner in which this mesh was first made, not 
constituting- it a sound article, but one that, if the 
thread were broken, would cause the net to unloop and 
run into a hole, a fast stitch was effected by pressing 
the loops and forcing them over the needle-heads re- 
peatedly through several intricate movements too 
difficult for description. 

The manufacture of point net contributed more than 
any other to the prosperity of the trade of Nottingham 
up to 1815, when it gave place to the then lately 
established twist bobbin-net manufacture. There were 
various competitors for the honour of its discovery; 
it is probable all who are most frequently mentioned as 
experimenting at that time, may have contributed their 
share towards it. One Flint, a Nottingham journey- 
man stocking-maker, conceived the idea how this net 
could be made. His necessities so pressed upon him, that 
he sold the invention to Thomas Taylor the framesmith, 
his neighbour, for 20, who, with his son, was a good 
workman, and perfectly able to work out Flint's instruc- 
tions, and add ideas of their own. Still they seem 
not to have been in a position to perfect the machine, 
and called in Morris, who completed the movements 
so as to turn off from the machine the single press 
article. His only reward, Blackner says, "was the 
satisfaction of an honourable mind, of having added 
to the stock of human benefits." Though some have 
asserted that Flint obtained the plan from John Lindley, 
his contemporaries generally agree that Flint was the 
real inventor ; arid his subsequent misfortunes and death 
in the poor house of St. Mary in Nottingham were the 
more deplored, seeing that he had so greatly benefitted 
the trade and town by the important invention of the 
' point net' machine. 

Taylor took out a patent in 1778, No. 1192, for this 



LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FHAME. 139 

invention ; and sold it to Morris, the patentee of the 
eyelet-hole machine. The reason was assigned, but 
in error, that Taylor was afraid of infringing Strutt's 
patent. It is more likely that though the net was of 
unexampled regularity and beauty, its light texture and 
unsound make of mesh retarded its use. At length in 
1786, John Rogers, of Mansfield, produced the double 
pressed fast point net of solid texture. 

This Mr. Morris, to whom Taylor had sold his 
patent, soon after disposed of his entire manufacturing 
business to Messrs. John, Wm. and Thos. Hayne, of 
Ashbourne and Nottingham ; and attached so little 
importance to the invention under notice, as to make 
a present of it to his successors. They, on looking into 
it, saw that it gave them a perfect mesh as to shape, 
and only needed the additional operations of Rogers 
just referred to, and a fast net would be secured, which 
might be cut in any direction without deranging or 
setting the loops at liberty. This was at once an 
ample reward for the perseverance and talent bestowed 
in perfecting the modification, as there was only entailed 
a loss by using it of one-third in the amount of the 
production, with a far larger addition to its value. Up 
to this time there were not more than 50 point frames, 
and those only twenty inches wide, in existence. The 
demand doubled yearly, until, in 1810, there were at 
least 1500 to 1800 employed in Nottingham, many of 
them thirty inches in width. These gave employment on 
the spot to 15,000 men, women, and children ; besides 
some tens of thousands throughout the neighbouring 
counties, who were engaged in needle running and 
tambouring this net. Mr. Wm. Hayne first introduced 
the splitting of the stitch, instead of carrying the needle 
over and under the threads of the web. This gentle- 
man had considerable abilities, of which he was vain. 
He often said, holding up his hands, " remember these 
fingers first run lace" ; that is, first rightly embroidered 
it. His plan gave it a flattened smooth surface and 
increased effect. 

These embroidered goods were from one inch to 
thirty inches in width of edgings, insertions, borderings, 
flouncings; also veils, scarfs, and every description of 



140 LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 

articles suited to the varying fashions of the time. 
The principal point net manufacturers were W. and 
T. Hayne ; Maltby and Brewitt ; Wilson, Burnside, and 
"Watson ; and Robert and Thomas Frost. 

Mr. Robert Frost sought to make point net by using 
a double row of pins, in place of Flint or Taylor's 
barleycorn points. The Messrs. Haynes proceeded to a 
trial against him at Nottingham, and gained a verdict. 
But from Frost still expressing a determination to get 
the patent set aside, on the ground that it had been 
improperly obtained, a compromise was entered into. 

Mr. Thomas Frost, a brother of Robert, devised an 
ingenious but complex machine for making figured net 
of various kinds : partly formed of stocking loops, and 
partly of six-sided point net. He used his brother's 
cylinder tickler machine for looping and making lace 
when required, with additional length of thread. It 
produced a loose fabric, and therefore was little used. 

Messrs. Haynes afterwards brought an action against 
Mr. Thomas Maltby. This person, who was of a respect- 
able family at Hoveringham, near Nottingham, had for 
some time wrought in the stocking-frame ; and his family 
furnished him with money to pursue the point net manu- 
facture on a respectable scale. Upon Haynes attacking 
him as an infringer, it was found that Taylor had never 
enrolled his specification. Maltby therefore obtained 
a verdict setting aside the patent. 

In consequence of the falling off of demand and 
to cheapen the article, it was made again of single press 
in 1811 ; and still further to lessen the cost of cotton 
point-net, single yarn was used. This completed the 
ruin of the manufacture in England. By 1815 the 
demand had entirely ceased here. Some machines had 
been wilfully destroyed on which the slight goods were 
made. Many others were taken from time to time to 
Leicester, where worsted webs of fine quality were made 
upon them. The last twenty-eight point lace frames 
ceased working and were sold in 1828. Six only of 
the workmen are now living; so that were there not 
a series still existing of patterns produced in this, for 
a long period, most important branch of the trade of 
Nottingham, the machines and their products with those 



LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 141 

who employed and worked them, would very soon be 
all passed away. A point-net frame could not now be 
found, if one were desired, to be placed in a local 
museum of extinct machinery. 

The author has had the opportunity of lately in- 
specting four such large pattern books filled with ex- 
amples of white cotton, white silk, and black silk run 
and tambour worked lace, in about equal proportions. 
They are supposed to be of the manufacture carried on by 
the Haynes, and contain 11,930 specimens dating from 
1797, presenting curious and very striking contrasts in 
regard to style and taste with the designs of the present 
day, though the net ground is as regular and perfect as 
machinery or hand has ever produced. There are rose 
trees with stems as straight and bare as a hop-pole, 
flowers without a curved line in them, perfect triangles ; 
masses of cloth work with hideous Hindoo or Chinese 
configurations, without the slightest approach to a 
flowing line in leaf or bud or stalk. In a word, they 
prove the absence of all knowledge of the art of design 
in the machine lace trade of that time, although the 
amount of work put in never was greater, nor on the 
whole more conscientiously performed. On the side 
of taste the present lace manufacturers of Nottingham 
immeasurably surpass their predecessors of fifty years 
ago. Another later set of patterns worked on the same 
grounds, are of gradually improving forms and taste. 
They are believed to have been Maltby's, consisting of 
5000 specimens ; one volume of 2000 patterns, supposed 
to be AVilson's, contains some which are better still. 
These volumes, containing altogether about 22000 pat- 
terns, are preserved for reference at the School of 
Art, People's Hall, and Mechanic's Institute. Large 
and useful additions may be expected to be made to 
this collection from time to time. 

In the Society of Arts Transactions, 1796, vol. xiv. 
p. 273, is a drawing with a minute description of a 
fishing-net machine constructed by Mr. J. W. Boswell, 
for which he received the Society's award of fifty guineas. 
The inventor knew the stocking-frame, and March's 
attempt to improve it. He uses beam, comb, sley, jacks 
and hooks, and produced by the use of a single thread 



142 LACE MAKING ON THE STOCKING-FRAME. 

placed on a netting needle passing from side to side of 
the machine, a web of sixty-eight meshes across and 
eight feet wide, when stretched out. The piece pre- 
sented to the Society was thirty yards long. 

Loops were made after the manner of those on a stocking-frame ; 
these being much enlarged, a thread was drawn through them by 
a hooked long wire, and thus formed a fast square net. The corners 
of each mesh consisted of the true fisherman's knot. The selvages 
also were perfect. 

The mechanical construction of the machine is in- 
genious, though, judging from the description, compli- 
cated. It is creditable to the inventor's talent. It is said 
that there are some of these frames still at work in 
Scotland, but owing to the fishermen making their nets 
in their leisure time, the use of these machine wrought 
nets seems never to have become general. In his letter 
to the Society, 7th December, 1795, Boswell says, 
" I hope soon to present a sample of exceedingly fine 
net in imitation of lace, made on a finer machine which 
I have now nearly ready for working. The invention 
is equally curious and novel, and may be of great utility 
to this country in diminishing the large sums that 
annually leave it for the importation of lace." 

No further reference to this fine net lace machine 
appears in the subsequent volumes of the Society's 
Transactions. The Author had a lengthened intercourse 
with Boswell while they were travelling together on the 
continent in 1824-5, and if such a machine had been 
perfected, the fact would certainly have transpired, 
when references were made by him to the one above 
first described. Mr. Boswell complained with bitter- 
ness of the neglect with which the world treated his in- 
ventive talents. 

This was the last important modification of the 
stocking-frame made in the eighteenth century, and one 
of those in which a near approach was made to the manu- 
facture by machinery of a sound net-work. On this 
account, as well as because its parts and construction 
have since been referred to in several important patent 
discussions, it is worthy of the notice of studious me- 
chanics. 



CHAPTER X. 



THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 

A VERY important step in developing the hosiery and 
lace manufactures took place about 1775, by the con- 
struction of what is known as the "warp" machine, 
from the addition of the warp threads of the old weaving 
loom, for the purpose of forming upon them the looped 
stitches of the stocking-frame. The competitors for the 
honour of this invention were Tarratt of Nottingham ; 
March, one of the knotted patentees ; Crane of Edmon- 
ton ; Morris of Nottingham, according to Blackner ; 
together with, Henson says, Vandyke a Dutchman. 
Morris told Blackner that Crane was the inventor, and 
not being overburdened with mo'ney, imparted the dis- 
covery to March, who gave him one hundred guineas 
for the privilege of using it as his own. March, at the 
instance of Horton, visiting Nottingham to obtain supe- 
rior workmen, Morris got from him some insight into the 
plan, and being an expert mechanic, began to construct 
a warp-frame. The credit of March was by this put 
at stake with Horton, and a doubt arose whether a patent 
could be obtained. At an interview between Horton, 
March, and Morris, the former, after hearing the state- 
ment of the others, came to the conclusion that neither 
had any claim to the invention, but that it belonged 
to Crane. This account Morris was candid enough 
to give to Blackner many years afterwards. 

Crane had constructed his warp-frame in 1775. A 
thread was given in it to every needle. On it silk hose 
having blue and white zig-zag stripes were made. 
Some have asserted that the name by which these party- 
coloured hose with their peculiar shaped stripes were 
known, " Vandyke warps," arose from fancied re- 
semblance to the pointed angular ruffs in the pictures 



144 THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 

of the celebrated painter of portraits. But Henson 
says : 

"The London stocking-makers give a far different account of the 
invention of the warp-frame, and which most probably led Mr. Farey 
the engineer, in his evidence to the Commons on the patent laws, to 
fall into the error of stating that the stocking-frame itself was origin- 
ally a foreign invention. They assert that the discovery was made in 
Holland, by Vandyke, a Dutch gentleman. He despairing of re- 
muneration at home, came to London and applied to the knotted 
patentees, Horton and March, who closed with his proposals and 
entered into partnership with him. March had certainly a partner 
of that name in his business at Moorfields, and the articles were 
known as Vandyke warps." 

This machine, whose powers of varied production 
far exceed those of the old weaving-loom, the stocking- 
frame, the bobbin net machine, or any other tissue 
making machinery hitherto constructed, was exceedingly 
simple in its first arrangement as an appendage to the 
stocking-frame. Henson believed that he was shewn the 
first warp stocking-frame in the pigeon-loft of Mr. Hardy 
in Twister's Alley, London, and thus describes it : 

" The star boxes and falling bar were taken away from the common 
stocking-frame, and the lockers were fastened to prevent the jacks 
from falling. A series of guides, of the same number and guage as 
the needles of the frame, with holes in their ends, were fixed on a 
bar near the heads of the needles. At the top was a warp beam 
furnished with as many threads as there were needles, and a machine 
to guide these warp threads to the needles, each passing through its 
guide. A part of the machine was adapted to make each thread to 
form a loop like that which school boys make on a string. This alone 
would have produced only a series of looped strings. But by other 
movements a spring was applied, and the guides were removed one 
needle to the right or left at pleasure ; and by the same movements 
being repeated in looping, the two next and every next loop was con- 
joined to its fellow loop. By removing the guides two or more needles 
to the right, and thea working the same number of courses to the 
left, a knitted web was produced of zig-zag angular texture, and 
varied coloured stripes could be made." 

The web was non-elastic, was cut by scissors, and 
sown up into the shape of hose ; and being put on and 
taken off the leg with difficulty, the unsightly seam was 
liable to break. These stockings did not retain hold of 
the English market. Made of cotton yarn, they were 
in considerable demand for Germany, so that three 
hundred frames were employed. The pieces replaced 
much of the knotted work. 



THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 145 

^here is considerable probability that the origin 
of this ingenious machine is due, in point of fact, to the 
versatile mechanical genius of Mr. James Tarratt, then 
well known to the constructive world of Nottingham and 
the hosiers of London. This idea has always prevailed 
to a large extent, but the facts cannot be ascertained. It 
is rendered the more likely, from Tarratt having in 1785 
applied treddles to the frame to effect its various addi- 
tional movements ; also building the machines forty-four 
instead of sixteen inches in width, thus trebling the 
width and doubling the speed by his improvements. 

In 1792, Roland, of Nottingham, produced a modi- 
fication of, and addition to, the stocking-frame which 
was patented by Mr. Robert Barber, of Bilborough, 
No. 1923, as " a method of making it capable of using 
hard materials in double looped frame-work." In 1797 
he took out No. 2175 for a further improvement; and 
in 1805, No. 2858, for making " stocking stitch warp 
work." The articles made under these patents were 
as heavy as blankets, and large contracts were entered 
into from time to time with the government, for the 
supply of woollen jackets and trowsers. Our sailors 
fought for years clothed in Nottingham manufactures, 
for the supply of which 500 machines were employed, 
made from fine frames and of good materials ; this 
webbing formed an excellent article for gentlemen's 
pantaloons. 

In 1796 Brown and Pindar arranged a warp hosiery 
frame, in which the needles were placed upright instead 
of in the usual horizontal position. One hundred and 
twenty such frames were employed, and afforded the 
extraordinary wages of 50s. a week to the workmen. 

The Berlin or Buonaparte warp piece web was intro- 
duced in 1799 by Roland. Copestake also claimed the 
invention. A large amount of these goods was made, 
but not being a sound article, they went entirely out of 
use in a few years. 

Thus the warp frame was found capable of competing 
in the woollen and cotton cloth markets with the com- 
mon loom, and with a variety in its productions beyond 
its rival at that and even up to the present time. 
Indeed it is impossible to describe all the methods and 



146 THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 

uses of this frame ; no other machine is so universally 
applicable. Every kind of thread may be used : silk, 
cotton, linen, and animal wool. Its speed is also un- 
equalled, as it loses no time in passing weft threads; 
only one gait or thread to the next is required, each 
thread being looped through a steel guide to its neigh- 
bour; all the series thus operating together across 
the loom. The cloth when made will not tear out, it 
must be cut. Velvet has been made on warp machines 
150 inches wide, without using wires for raising the pile. 

The number of warp machines making cloth in the 
early part of this century was very large in England. 
Its great usefulness and rapid power of varied produc- 
tion caused it to be used abroad extensively, it having 
found its way into France, Spain, Italy, and Germany. 

But the substitution of a warp thread to every needle, 
instead of confining the whole set of needles to suc- 
cessive loopings upon one thread, it was soon discovered 
had introduced great facilities for varying the meshes 
which might be made on the warp machine. Accord- 
ingly, attempts to get an open work article of lacy 
appearance from it were made about 1795. These were 
attended with considerable success. At the beginning 
of the present century, improvements were brought 
forward in the use of the machine, by which it was 
adapted for the manufacture of not only plain, but 
figured lace. Further modifications have simplified the 
mechanical arrangements so much as to greatly facili- 
tate changes in the articles produced by it. To the 
heaviest cloths for warmth was rapidly added the 
fabrication of the lightest gossamer silk net lace; silk 
blonds and edgings; cotton tattings and pearls; anti- 
macassars and d'oyleys of durable qualities and effec- 
tive designs, thick threaded, pearled, and finished in the 
loom : these all now form classes of goods of very 
large home consumption, and enter equally into our 
export trade. The low prices at which they can be 
sold, combined with the durability of the heavier kinds 
of cotton warp articles, have made them the sure pioneers 
of our trade for more expensive lace goods in parts of 
the world where otherwise but little lace would go. 

In 1810 the number of warp lace frames at work 



THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 147 

was 435, according to the workmen's books. They 
were employed in making so-called Mechlin net, but it 
was of inferior quality. Nevertheless it was made of 
cotton yarn specially prepared for this purpose, costing 
fifteen guineas per Ib. ; and the workmen engaged in 
making the net obtained weekly wages of four guineas 
for a time. The use of this article assisted in the 
downfall of the point net trade. The persons who 
devised this modification were Copestake, of Ilkiston, 
and Brown, of Nottingham. 

In 1804 an upright warp machine was set to work, 
in which no sinkers were used. The invention was 
claimed respectively by Robert Brown, of Nottingham ; 
James Ewing, travelling with a waxwork exhibition ; 
and James Tarratt, whose name so often appears in 
these annals of inventive ingenuity, and who, after 
many years of active employment of his talents upon 
every kind of hosiery and lace frames, finished his 
useful life in honourable retirement at the Charterhouse 
in London. 

Hitherto the varied movements required in the warp 
machine had been made by hand. The way in which 
rotary power could be applied, requires a notice of the 
talented inventor. This was Wm. Dawson, who, though 
a Leicester frame-work-knitter only, made a great dis- 
covery in mechanics. 

This was by his devising a wheel irregularly notched on its edge, 
and which, when revolving, operates upon horizontal bolts or bars 
that are pressed by springs on their edges. As the bars are pushed 
from it, or allowed to approach, a figure is wrought by this lateral 
motion in the stuff which is being made. 

This plan is used in nearly every kind of weaving ma- 
chinery; its useful qualities are continually developing 
themselves, and being everywhere known as " Dawson' s 
wheels," serve to perpetuate the name of the unhappy 
inventor. 

In 1791 Dawson patented (No. 1820) "a machine 
for making all kinds of hosiery," but it was more 
especially adapted for military sashes (which from the 
then existing war were in great demand) of crimson silk 
for the -commissioned, and worsted for the non-com- 
missioned officers. Unexpectedly to the inventor, he 

L2 



148 THE WARP HOSIEEY AND LACE MACHINE. 

found the machine could be altered to plait stay laces with 
great rapidity. Being a general mechanic, he planned 
means for tagging them, cutting the tin and closing it in 
one operation. Two Leicester manufacturers assisted 
with means, allowing him a guinea a-week ; but not com- 
pleting his design in the time expected, they withdrew 
their support. He then found a friend in Mr. Gregory, 
an architect of Nottingham, and obtained the patent, 
working a number of his machines in Turncalf Alley, 
Nottingham. Like many geniuses, he squandered away 
his money; and at the expiration of his patent, he 
besought Lord Chancellor Eldon to have it renewed. 
He removed his machinery and business to Islington, 
London, and there made a small and beautiful model, 
which his lordship inspected and worked. But the 
privilege was not extended, and the unhappy appli- 
cant destroyed himself in consequence. 

It will be observed that these elevations and depres- 
sions upon the outer surface of a wheel, thereby 
becoming eccentric in its revolving operations upon 
bars, would be the same in principle as those of the 
catches of the barrel of an organ for the opening and 
closing of its pipes; and, of the Jacquard apparatus, 
by its perforated cards on the threads of a weaving- 
loom, or on the bars and threads of a lace machine. 

In subsequent descriptions of various machines it 
will be seen that, according to the more simple or com- 
plex character of the meshes and ornamental character 
of the fabric to be produced, one or other and sometimes 
two of these systems combined, have been brought into 
play in lace manufactures. The organ barrel had been 
in use twenty years, and Dawson's wheels ten years, in 
several kinas of Nottingham machinery, before the 
Jacquard apparatus had been introduced into notice 
at Paris and Lyons in 1801. 

Dawson's unequal surface wheels were applied to 
the warp lace frame in 1807, and have been ever since 
used. Mr. Simon Orgill, of Castle Donington, was 
mainly instrumental in effecting this great improve- 
ment. The same year, 1807, the spotting bar and 
wheels were applied by Vickcrs and Gray, both of Not- 
tingham. And in 1809, Kirkland, of Beeston, by adding 



THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 149 

other wheels and a further alteration of the frame, pro- 
duced l two-course' silk net. 

At this point the warp lace trade came under the 
direct, and afterwards frequently recurring, influence 
of close competition with bobbin twist net, for the 
manufacture of which Heathcoat's patent was taken out 
in 1809. In some respects it would seem preferable to 
relate their respective alternations in the same narrative, 
and as they occurred ; but clearness and brevity seem 
to require that the account of the warp manufacture 
should be a continuous one. To resume, therefore, 
Day cock and George Morrison in 1811 put wheels and 
dividing bars into the warp frame, so as to make upon 
it silk blonde. This article became a considerable branch 
of the lace manufacture, at intervals, for the next forty 
years; and, in making the net, workmen gained for 
some time 10 a- week wages. Mr. Robert Frost 
assisted in developing this improvement. 

In 1816 warp pearling was introduced by Wm. 
Fowkes, of Leicester, and Kirkman, of Nottingham. 
This article is much used, and is of great importance 
to the trade. 

In 1819 warp Mechlin had disappeared ; and not 
long after the two-course and blonde declined till about 
1830, in consequence mainly of the superiority of the 
French mode of dressing their light silk nets. 

The plain warp nets, which had been largely made 
for ten or fifteen years, were thus rapidly driven out 
of use by the superior texture in soundness and appear- 
ance of 'twist' net. This caused many of the oldest 
amongst the warp frames to be broken up and sold as 
scrap iron. But it had the immediate effect also of direct- 
ing the attention of mechanicians to devise the means 
for ornamenting the lace in process of manufacture. 

After an effort to rival bobbin net by a new net, 
called mock-twist, bullet hole and spotted warp nets were 
the first additions made to the plain articles, and these 
were produced by Copestake, Boot, Roberts, and Herbert. 

There sprung from these, warp-latUnga in 1822, the 
wheels for producing which were devised by Copestake, 
of Stapleford, and Read, of Radford. These articles 
are now consumed to a larger amount than formerly. 



150 THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 

At their first introduction the demand was such as to 
greatly raise the value of the existing machinery and to 
cause new ones to be built. 

William Hardy, of Nottingham, devised a machine, 
in 1824, for spotting and figuring the imitation twist 
net above named. 

In 1831 the warp production, under the patronage 
of the court, became very large, and the trade attained 
a state of great prosperity. Queen Adelaide appeared 
at one of her balls in a dress of white silk lace of Nott- 
ingham manufacture. 

Many rotary machines, of 100 to 150 inches in 
width, were built to meet the increased demand, which 
lasted till 1835, when, in consequence of the bobbin net 
machinery being further adapted to make ornamented lace 
of a superior character, cotton warp tattings were much 
depressed for a time, as was also warp silk blonde, for 
Heathcoat's white silk twist net took its place. 

In 1833 William Herbert took out patent, No. 6399, 
for tattings in imitation of bobbin net; in 1835, Streets 
and Whitely, No. 6748, and the same year Dunnington 
and Copestake, No. 6833, both for improvements in 
warp frames. 

The warp machinery was turned upon gimps, lace 
mitts, and gloves, from 1836 to 1846 ; articles which 
have gone nearly out of use. 

In 1838 the commercial panic seriously affected the 
warp trade, and the narrow tatting-frame workmen were 
reduced thirty per cent, in their wages, affecting 650 
hands. Those employed by Mr. William Herbert, 
turned out for an advance, which was not obtained. 
The wide machine hands were then earning 40s. a-week 
generally. Draper applied the Jacquard to the warp 
frame in 1839. By this means articles of elaborate 
design, as shawls, scarfs, falls, laces, &c. were brought 
out, to be supplanted again in due time by their rivals 
from the bobbin net machine. 

An impression from a cotton warp lace selling in 
country shops at Id. per yard, is given as a specimen of 
combined excellence and cheapness. It will be found 
in Plate XIV, 



THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 151 

Since 1839, other kinds of webbing have been pro- 
duced from the warp looms. 

Mr. Henry Dunington made elastic woollen cloth for 
gloves, and for some time the best of its kind. This 
mechanician had patented in 1836, No. 7132; and in 
1838, No. 7801 ; and again in 1838, No. 7828; in 1839, 
No. 8035, and No. 8292 all for improvements in warp 
hosiery machinery and fabrics. 

In 1849 he took out No. 12561 for his still further 
improved method of making hat-bands and gloves. 
To this manufacturer the trade owes an important 
advance in the fabrication and use of warp articles, on 
which he has bestowed much time and money. 

In 1845, Dunnicliff and Dexter took out a patent, 
No. 11020, for making velvet pile ornamentation wrought 
in warp lace. 

In 1819, Ball and Dunnicliff, and also Haimes and 
Hancock, each produced piece velvet from the warp 
frame, suitable for gloves. The former house made 
velvet in combination with lace, the one fabric being 
the ground, the other forming the pattern introduced 
into it. An impression of one of these velvet laces is 
given in Plate XVII. 

As a striking example of the progress of this class 
of machinery, it may be stated, that the average width 
of warp blonde machines was 54 inches in 1830, and 
the production 80 racks, or 50 square yards per week. 
But Messrs. Ball, of Ilkeston and Nottingham, placed in 
the Exhibition of 1851, a, power warp machine, which if 
worked twelve hours a day would produce 800 racks, 
equal to 1200 square yards in a week, or 60,000 square 
yards in a year. A square yard of silk blonde sold in 
1830 for 26-. and in 1851 had become reduced to 6d. 

The warp frame has amply rewarded those who 
have thoroughly understood and judiciously employed 
its diversified capacity for production. Amongst these 
110 one was more conspicuous than Mr. William Herbert, 
who was the son of a frame-work-knitter, and himself 
worked as a youth in the stocking-frame. Enlisting 
into the army, he served in the Netherlands, and was 
one of the foremost at the storming of Bergen-op-Zoom. 
He escaped without harm, and quitted the service at 



l.VJ mi: WAKT HOSIKKY ANP LAIT 

the close ot' the war in ISlo. On returning to Xe\v 
Ixisford, he learnt to work a warp machine. The 
savings he tlien roali/ed from high wages enabled him 
to get an interest in a machine, on which he made 
tatting-s, laying very soon the foundation tor a business 
which he carried on eventually at Tottenham. Tho 
profits that he then made wore large, but adverse times 
supervened, and they were dissipated. .Mr. Herbert 
then produced cords and braidings from the warp 
frames, and gained -30 a week from a single one of 
100 breadths. These were disposed of at Coventry, 
where the demand for a time was so great as to exceed 
his power of supply, lie again accumulated a large sum 
of money, and increased his machinery so as to overpass 
demand, and stocked the articles extensively: for his plan 
was never to do things by halves. A source of great 
happiness to him consisted in contributing largely to 
religious and benevolent objects, and during this season 
of prosperity he was heard to say publicly, "My friends, 
do not be afraid that I am giving more than 1 can atl'ord ; 
God gives me my money by skipfuls, 1 am only dis- 
tributing it by handfuls." A reverse quickly came, and 
the blow was so sudden that, using his own peculiar 
diction, "it was as if an angel from heaven had come 
down and proclaimed, 'that cords and braidings should 
be used no more.' ' His immense stock was compara- 
tively valueless, and he again lost all. 

For the third time he went to work with his constitu- 
tional vigour and enthusiasm, saying, <% Turn me into 
Nottingham park without money or clothes, and I shall 
i rich man." Hitherto his profits had been made 
chiefly in warp goods. This time he turned to the twist 
bobbin net branch, and entered into the manufacture of 
black laces with success. He concluded his extra- 
ordinary career by carving out a business, which for a 
time he kept almost to himself by producing an imita- 
tion of Saxony lace. As he had predicted, he died 
1 of considerable property two or three years ago. 

Mr. Herbert had not only a good knowledge of the 
capacity for adaptation of the classes of machines he 
used, but he employed them appropriately and with 
char. : .c confidence. He devised an ingenious 



THE WARP HOSIERY AXD LACE MACHINE. 153 

machine, in which he used pins and plates instead of a 
chain wheel. This was afterwards perfected and patented 
by Crofts. Several who were his fellow- workmen in the 
warp frame became in like manner conversant with its 
wonderful powers; guided and subordinated them to 
the production of new and beautiful articles, built up 
large and profitable businesses, and are enjoying well 
earned reputation and property. 

Messrs. Whiteley and Co. in 1839 took out a patent, 
No. 8262, for the manufacture on the warp machine, of 
a tissue, called ; Taffeta.' On their plan the warp 
threads were to traverse in some measure. The prin- 
ciple of traversing on this machine is in this patent, and 
the merit of the discovery belongs to them, as to how it 
was to be effected on the tciJe warp frame from selvage 
to selvage across the machine. They disposed of this 
patent right to Messrs. J. and R. Morley. Messrs. Hemsley 
and Co. worked machinery by license under this patent. 

In 1851 the Hemsley's took out a patent, No. 13635, 
for an improvement upon Whiteley's plan, by carrying 
the diagonal traverse from selvage to selvage by the 
operation of longitudinal bars on this wide frame ; and 
in 1854, another patent, No. 981, for an improved 
manner of carrying the thread and making the selvage, 
thus perfecting the traverse system on the wide warp 
frame. Whiteley took out patents in 1853, Nos. 1107 
and 1963, for making ornamented warp fabrics. 

Messrs. Ball and Co. exhibited in the Paris Exhibi- 
tion in 1855 a double looped taffeta made on a circular 
machine ; therefore entirely different in its principle, 
mode of working, and resulting tissue, from White' 
and Henisley's. This frame possesses the requisites 
of simplicity in construction, together with speed, quan- 
tity, and consequently, lessened cost of production. 
For the beautiful articles exhibited in the shape of silk 
gloves made up from this tissue, the jury awarded 
a gold medal to Ball and Co. This house gave notice 
for an English patent, but did not proceed to specification. 

In 1864 Messrs. Gamble and Ellis obtained a patent, 
No. 689, which they described as being "for improve- 
ments in warp fabrics, and in machinery for making 
them," and explain as follows : 



154 THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 

Instead of the warp fabrics consisting of pillars, each produced by 
looping continually a single thread, so as to make a chain resembling 
tambour work ; which pillars were connected together into a fabric by 
other threads which do not loop on themselves, but which catch or 
link first with one pillar and then with another, and which may pass 
only from one pillar to the next, or may traverse a greater distance 
this improved fabric differs from them, in that the connecting thread 
or threads heretofore caught one only of the three thicknesses of which 
such looped pillar is composed, while we cause them in each course 
to catch two of these thicknesses. The advantage of this is, that 
whereas on the former plan, in close work with a satin-like face, 
where in each course the connecting threads were carried sideways 
over two or more pillars, and on the face of the work float over the 
pillars intermediate to those which they catch, the back of the fabric 
has exhibited the pillars as heavy ribs, because the connecting threads 
only caught one of the three thicknesses of each pillar, and left the 
other two pillars on the back of the work. On our plan, by catching 
two of the three thicknesses of each pillar, this ribbed appearance 
is tp a great extent got rid of, the back and front resembling each 
other, save that at the back the connecting threads do not float 
entirely clear of the pillars intermediate to those which they catch ; 
but the connecting threads are held down to the intermediate threads 
by a single thickness of the pillar passing over them. In the open 
works also, catching with or twisting round two thicknesses of the 
pillars instead of only one, gives the pillar much more nearly the 
appearance of a true twisted pillar. 

In this machine there is a needle-bar having needles with eyes, 
applicable to other warp-machines, each having a channel leading up 
to the eye in which the thread lies, not disturbed by loops of work 
passing over it. 

Also there are in front of the work, points which catch the thread, 
rise or pass between it and the needle, and so leave a loop upon the 
points of which there are two to each needle. These points pass the 
loops sideways, and deliver them on the needles ; which process by 
repetition forms the pillars. 

This machine is more rapid than the ordinary warp- 
loom, because the connecting threads can be carried to 
and fro at each ordinary course, while in common warp- 
frames they can make one such motion only. The 
motions are also shorter. 

Extra threads and guides may be used, to lay on or to work their 
threads into the fabric for ornamental purposes. And threads may 
be laid in from side to side ; and these threads may form the sole 
connection between the pillars, and so form open net-work with rect- 
angular holes ; or these may be filled up by traversing the connecting 
threads. 

Or the needle-bar, by a shogging movement, may pass the new 
loop through the next old loop needle thread. The machine thus 
arranged, the needle threads will produce a ground fabric without 
connecting threads ; this may bo ornamented by threads, laid into it 
by means of guides. 



THE WARP HOSIERY AND LACE MACHINE. 



155 



Warp-machines arranged according to the plans here 
patented are said to be suitable for the cheap production 
of strong curtains. 

Plain Mechlin had given place to plain blonde, 
and blonde at length having become obsolete, a new 
and lighter article, Zephyr Aerophone, or Paris net, was 
largely made from the same machines. But, after 
maintaining with varied success competition with bobbin 
net, under the name of Queen's, made with a traversed 
mesh, and Mechlin, a straight down article, both of very 
light materials, and produced at low cost, about 1860 
the warp Paris net succumbed; and the machines on 
which it was wont to be made have been unemployed 
and become almost valueless. Warp cotton laces and 
tattings have had to submit to a somewhat similar pro- 
cess. But a very light and inexpensive class of silk 
fancy nets have come into use. The old machines have 
in many cases been replaced by new wider ones, to 
which the Jacquard apparatus has been applied, greatly 
to their advantage in making heavy fancy goods. The 
rapid way in which these almost twin manufactures of 
warp and twist lace act and react on each other is very 
striking and important. Many of the articles may be 
said, if not to be common to both kinds of machines, to' 
be so nearly allied as by the slightest difference in price 
or in the fashion favouring either of them to replace 
each other. They are always ready to supply their 
respective quotas to the general mass of the Nottingham 
lace trade. The machines are gradually assimilating 
in width, cost, time of working, wages, and vast power 
of production. They both require great skill and nicety 
of construction ; and each must be worked by hands of 
a superior class, .who, if put on short time, or their 
labour is suspended but for a brief season, are difficult 
to be retained, and can seldom be replaced. In both 
these departments of the lace trade, the machines are 
worked in factories eighteen hours a day, by two relays 
of four and five hours shifts. The quantity that can 
be made is therefore so large as, in times of difficulty, 
to issue in over production, and prices in both trades 
suffer accordingly. 



( 156 ) 



CHAPTER XL 



BROWN'S FISHING NET MACHINE. 

ROBERT BROWN, who describes himself as a lace 
manufacturer, of New Radford, Nottinghamshire, took 
out in 1802 a patent, No. 2571, for the invention of 

" A machine for the purpose of manufacturing by this more speedy, 
simple, and neat method, fishing nets, horse nets, garden nets, furniture 
nets, nets for wearing apparel, and all other articles of net-work, 
having the same common diamond mesh and knot hitherto tied by the 
hand with the netting needle, in fishing nets; and also for manu- 
facturing divers other figured meshes, with any thread, twist, twine, 
cord, jersey, or yarn produced from .animal, vegetable, or mineral 
substances." 

This machine was never made practically useful or 
profitable, for it has not being ascertained after much and 
careful inquiry that any net produced by it was ever 
sold. But questions of great interest and importance 
were raised within ten years subsequent to the date of 
the patent, respecting one or more of its parts and 
combinations, which will require attention, and render 
a full description of the invention necessary. 

Robert Brown was a frame-work-knitter, and one of 
a number of clever artizans who were most of them 
more or less known to each other, and whose great 
object it was to construct machinery to make lace. This 
had been accomplished to some extent. Point net and 
warp net were being made in large quantities, but a fast 
meshed lace was not as yet achieved. This must either 
be a firmly knotted mesh, or a platted one, or a twisted 
and traversed one, or one compounded of two of these, as 
for instance platted and traversed net. 

Now to accomplish by machinery any one of these 
ends was, by the outside world, considered as likely as 
to find the philosopher's stone; but by the mechanics 
themselves it was sought after with all the eagerness of 



BROWN'S FISHING NET MACHINE. 



157 



digging for gold : at any rate to attain to it was to gain 
the blue riband for invention in this class of machinery. 
Boswell, as we have seen, had made a knotted net of one 
thread by a machine. Robert Brown adopted the 
exactly opposite method of using his materials. 

On his machine there were twice as many threads as meshes ; 
these were divided into two equal parts, half of them were wound on 
the usual shaped wooden bobbins, and placed on pins upon a board 
behind the frame, from which they were carried separately, but in one 
row, to the front. The other half were wound on bobbins separately, 
each bobbin of about one-fourth of an inch in thickness, more or less 
according to the guage, between its sides ; and these bobbins were 
placed in ' sinkers' on a pivot by springing the sinker open. The thread 
is held tight by passing through a spring. The spring is fastened to 
one of the inner sides of the sinkers, and likewise the catch by which the 
sinkers are drawn off and pushed on the bar as on a shelf. Plate IX. 
fig. 1. This bar moves on axles at the ends, and has a ledge on 
the front that enters the notches of the sinkers and supports them. 
These sinkers were doubtless so called from their working up and 
down perpendicularly like the sinkers of a stocking-frame. In opera- 
tion the sinker or carriage and its bobbin were equivalent to a weaver's 
or hand fishing net maker's shuttle. There was another bar in front, 
about the width of the machine. This bar can be applied and re- 
moved at pleasure ; it holds wire pins horizontally, and when applied 
presents these pins exactly to the hollow sheaths at the top of the 
carriages. The carriages are moved by hooks; these are the same 
hooks which operate on the threads to form the nooses ; and the 
motion given to the carriages by the hooks draws them forward off 
the shelf, and then they are received on the wires of the other bar, or 
are put backwards again from the wires to return upon the shelf. The 
loops of threads through which the bobbins and carriages must pass 
are first made by the hooks and other parts of the machine, and are 
then drawn out or lengthened to obtain sufficient thread; they are 
afterwards expanded into a triangular form, so as to admit the points 
of the carriages into them, and the expanded parts of the nooses are 
thrown by the hooks over the top of the sinkers. Then the moveable 
bar with the wires is applied opposite to the hollow of the carriages, 
and seizing the carriages by the hooks, they are drawn off from the 
shelf and received in the wires ; this brings the bobbins, with all the 
threads they contain, through the loops, which are afterwards drawn 
up to inclose and form a knot round the thread from the bobbin. 
The work is then thrown off the pins and the entire course of meshea 
is finished. 

This process, and the machine by which it is accom- 
plished, are very ingenious. It takes and uses as com- 
ponent parts a work beam, shuttle, and other well-known 
instruments, but some of them in new forms and subjected 
to new processes. Though at first sight it seems intricate, 
yet it would be comprehended without difficulty by those 



158 BROWN'S FISHING NET MACHINE. 

accustomed to the stocking-frame and warp lace machine. 
The knotted fishing mesh it produces is perfectly sound 
in quality, and would come very low in price. 

The parts of this machine and their modes of opera- 
tion having been described, the first of the questions 
raised may be now considered, though they did not 
begin to occupy the attention of Nottingham mechanics 
and the lace trade until after the publication of Heath- 
coat's specification of his second bobbin net patent; 
to find flaws in which every effort was put forth by 
those who either envied the patentee's success, or desired 
to participate in the profits which would evidently arise 
from the newly-invented machine. The first question 
was raised by Robert Brown himself, who declared that 
Heath coat's bobbin and carriage were only modifications 
of his ' sinker' and bobbin. In an interview with Lewis 
Allsopp, csq., a solicitor enquiring into these matters, 
he said, " Heathcoat and John Brown*' (the traverse 
warp patentee in 1811) "have used me ill in borrowing 
my bobbin and case." And in a document of later date 
his son, Alfred Brown, says " my father's frame was 
the first that worked a bobbin and carriage. If Heath- 
coat can make a twist net without the bobbin and 
carriage, let him take the merit of it, otherwise I claim 
the merit for Robert Brown." And in 1843, in con- 
versation with the author, he remarked : 

"The invention of the bobbin and carriage is comparatively as 
good an one as the wood needle blocks of Lee, the inventor of tho 
stocking-frame ; the wood types of Faust or Guttenburg ; or the 
spinning mule of Arkwright, the assumed inventor of the spinning 
apparatus. Robert Brown's patent had the advantage of some years 
priority. He fell into poverty and received parish relief; became 
insane, and attempted self-destruction ; had he retained his faculties 
he would have claimed his right by an injunction on Heathcoat. 
Things would have been much better for his family after the last trial 
between Heathcoat and tho trade, had there been no collusion or 
fraud; but they were fearful that, in their contention, H. Brown's 
claim would bo established, and therefore compromised." 

Alfred Brown denied all merit to Whittaker in re- 
gard to the bobbin and carriage, or that he ever put 
together a machine on which bobbin twist lace could 
be produced. It was stated by G. Henson, that 

" "Whitemore, an apprentice or workman of E. Brown's, seeing 
a boy play with a thread wound round a very flat bobbin and being 



BROWN'S FISHING NET MACHINE. 159 

let down towards the end of the string and suddenly checked, it rose 
and wound up again ; he was led to think that if he could use such an 
instrument in another implement, he might by that means get a 
thread to pass round a warp thread: a thing tried for during fifty 
years, and not then accomplished." 

It is further said that when Whitemore had imbibed 
the idea of a spring regulating a bobbin, he became so 
excited that his shopmates thought him insane. This 
is intended to account for Robert Brown's devising his 
sinker and bobbin in 1802 ; and it was expected in 
1815, that Whitemore would have verified it on oath. 
He was not, however, called upon to do so. The idea 
that, by his sinker and bobbin, Robert Brown originated 
this important part of the twist lace machine became 
prevalent, and was a good deal relied on by infringers of 
the patent the heads of the Nottingham trade, masters, 
and their journeymen, who for a time shewed him 
personal attentions, which were, however, soon discon- 
tinued ; though for some years, in consideration of his 
misfortunes, he was paid 12s. weekly out of a trade 
fund. A patent, No. 2760, which he had taken out in 
1804 for a machine to be affixed to an upright warp or 
Vandyke knitting-frame without sinkers, had unhappily 
proved also a failure, being superseded by a horizontal 
one. Though it is stated that he sold his fishing net 
machine for 600 to a gentleman at Gloucester (in 
whose hands it did not succeed), the prosecution of his 
inventions swallowed up his resources. It is greatly 
to be regretted that a mechanician of such undoubted 
ingenuity, and who, under more favourable circum- 
stances, might have achieved success and fortune, should 
have been left to pine away into a moody melancholy. 

Every part of Robert Brown's machine had in some 
form or other been used before; the 'sinker' and its 
bobbin amongst the rest. It is a shuttle in a different 
form, and used for a different purpose to that of the 
ordinary weaving-loom. The same motive and ne- 
cessity, though in each case for an entirely different 
purpose, induced R. Brown and Heathcoat respectively, 
to reduce their bobbin and carriage into as thin a shape 
and compass as they could get it to occupy; each 
performed the real purpose of a shuttle, but in ways, 



160 BEOWN'S FISHING NET MACHINE. 

in the two machines, having no relation to each other. 
Heathcoat had seen Brown's specification, though not 
his machine ; and may have had his thoughts directed 
to the practicability and use of a thin bobbin, spring, 
and carriage by it. He gave credit, as will be shortly 
related, to G. Brown for his shuttle. But Brown's fame as 
an inventor does not in reality stand upon this bobbin and 
carriage, or on any other part or parts of his machine 
separately, but upon the ingenuity and novelty of his 
combination of them. For this he deserves very great 
credit. The result was a perfect article, which, but 
for special reasons in relation to the use that could be 
made of the net he produced, must have been the source 
of much profit to him. Like Boswell's, his frame re- 
mained unused, because fishermen's nets cost them merely 
the sum paid for materials, their leisure time only being 
occupied in manufacturing them. That this is the just 
view of Mr. Robert Brown's shuttle, is fortified by the 
following statement made after examining it, and given 
in evidence by Donkin, Sylvester, Farey, Millington, 
Brunei, Hawkins, and Ostell : 

"That it is no more like Heathcoat' s carriage than it is to the old 
shuttle of the weaving-loom ; that they had no affinity in use or 
effect, being intended and used for entirely different purposes, and 
were each detached parts of complicated machines." 

Claims to this invention were put forward on behalf 
of John Lindley, Edward Whittaker, B. Thompson, 
and C. Hood, which will be noticed when the inventions 
of John Heathcoat are described. 

The second question which has been raised, in re- 
ference to this patent of Robert Brown's, is a far more 
interesting one, and shall be given in substance from 
the words of Dr. Ure, in his History of Cotton Manu- 
factures, vol. ii., p. 342 : 

"Without impugning the merit of Mr. Heathcoat, it may be 
stated that the principle of his patent has been embodied since the 
year 1803 in a machine for making fishing nets, the invention of 
Robert Brown or his partner Greorge Whitemore, both of Nottingham. 
Mr. Morley, the very eminent bobbin net manufacturer, of the great 
firm of Eoden and Morley, of Derby, pronounces the judgment ' that 
this machine possesses all the essential principles and properties of 
Heathcoat's patent bobbin net machine (of 1809 or seven years sub- 
sequently to iJrown's), and is to all intents and purposes a bobbin net 
machine.' " 



BROWN'S FISHING NET MACHINE. 161 

Dr. Ure goes on to say : 

"To this machine must be traced the origin of the curious in- 
vention of the bobbin and carriage ; to it must be referred the method 
of using two divisions of threads, warp and bobbin; and to it alone 
must be attributed the beautiful idea of passing, or as it is generally 
termed, twisting two divisions of threads with order and regularity 
and without entanglement round each other." 

After referring, for proof of the above, to the 
specification which it is almost incredible that he or 
Mr. Morley could have examined, he further says : 

" The idea of reducing the thickness of the bobbin and carriage 
to a scale fit for the fine meshes of bobbin lace, seems to have originated 
with Edward Whittaker, of Bedford, who, knowing Robert Brown, 
had knowledge of his fishing net machine." 

These statements, coming from such an authority, 
go to withdraw from Mr. Heathcoat his title to the 
invention of the bobbin net machine, and will be 
most appropriately considered when an account of the 
origin and a description of that invention has been 
given. Till then the reader will probably preserve 
his mind unbiassed by them. 

Robert Brown died about the year 1818. His son, 
Alfred Brown, has shewn proof of hereditary mechanical 
skill in the construction of a machine capable of pro- 
ducing some of the most intricate combinations of 
threads hitherto made. Specimens of these meshes 
indicate the complex character of the mechanism by 
which they must have been produced. This and~ his 
want of means has hitherto prevented its being brought 
into use. He is a small newsvendor, of respectable 
demeanour, and is possessed of much intelligence. It 
is to be regretted that his abilities have not been 
exercised under more favourable circumstances. 



CHAPTER XII. 



HORIZONTAL LACE PLATTING MACHINES. 

MR. JOHN MOORE, a native of Leicester, was a small 
hosier, and his sons were there taught frame- work-knitting. 
Of these, John was living at Croydon about the year 1800. 
He was previously to that time employed in experiments 
in making lace machines, while his brothers, Benjamin 
and Olive Moore, were engaged making 'point net' lace. 
John Moore turned his attention at first to the produc- 
tion of twisted net, and then in 1810 of platted net by 
machinery. He had by mechanical means obtained a 
twist on both sides, carrying threads over each other 
and then back again ; and having constructed this 
horizontal frame, worked it for some time, making a 
twisted but untraversed net. At length he found means 
whereby he platted some of his threads also ; they were 
still untraversed, and the net meshes straight down ones. 

According to the account of his brother and nephew, the pillar or 
longitudinal sides of his perfect hexagon mesh were platted, being 
composed of four threads, two of which had been twisted twice 
round each other diagonally and other two the same, forming the 
two upper sides of the mesh, and having all passed together the 
platting process twice, were separated, and each thread of each pair 
was again twisted twice round its fellow, to form the two lower 
sides of the mesh, preparatory to all four entering into the platting 
combination again. By this method a sound and beautiful straight 
down real Mechlin mesh may be produced, and which it is presumed 
John Moore effected. It is uncertain whether he ever arrived at 
traversing the threads after platting. 

As there was no patent, there was no specification ; 
the machine has disappeared and none of the net can 
now be found. Two of those who worked in these 
frames, Mr. Olive Moore and his nephew Stephen, are 
still living. The former with Benjamin Moore helped 
John Moore, in putting up several to make first twisted 
breadths, and then platted wide net at Croydon. Yet 



HORIZONTAL LACE PLATTING MACHINES. 163 

neither of them has a perfect recollection of the mechan- 
ism or mode of working of either of the machines, but de- 
scribe the arrangements and processes of the latter thus: 

"It was a horizontal machine in two distinct parts, only connected 
by the threads used in the construction of the net. These parts at 
the beginning of making a piece were placed distant from each other 
the length of the room. The place in which the last of John Moore's 
platting frames was worked, on its being brought by him to 
Nottingham, and sold to his brother Benjamin, is in Parliament 
Street, and is thirty-three feet long. Allowing three feet at each end 
for the machinery, the full length of the extended threads would be 
twenty-seven feet. The pieces, while making, drew up the machine 
from the lower end, it moving on trucks, towards the upper end ; and 
they would be so much the shorter than nine yards as the thread would 
be taken up by plat and twist. At the upper end was the work 
roller and the under point bar, which held up the work already made, 
while the top point bar came forwards to bring with it the plat or 
twist as it was formed. There was no division of threads, all being 
carried in one line from the machine at the upper end of the room ; 
and at the lower end each thread was tied into a loose needle having 
in it a catch or notch. Each needle dropped into a slaie. Below this 
slaie and the threads was a bar with points, which moved such of the 
threads as were necessary to form the plat by means of the notches 
or catches to an upper slaie made like the lower one, and on receiving 
these threads carried them by a movement of the whole of this upper 
part of the machine to a position where by the side (shogging) move- 
ment it placed the threads so as to help to effect the plat, when 
the remaining threads had performed a similar movement. As 
the platted or twisted sides were formed, a roller the width of the 
net (about forty inches) was placed so as to pass from between the 
top and bottom catch bars, at that end where the platting or twisting 
had just been effected, and then slide up to the other end machine, 
whose upper point bar was waiting to take and deliver them to the 
under point bar, to be added and held to the work already made." 

The expence of constructing this machine was large. 
Only about two yards in length of plain net could be 
made in a week from No. 300 yarn, costing 16 guineas 
per Ib. The whole of the net produced was sold to 
Mr. James Fisher at five guineas a yard in length and 
forty inches in width, until from its high price it was 
superseded by twist and traversed bobbin net. This 
machine and the first traverse warp machine made by 
Benjamin Moore were long kept as curiosities, but for 
want of a public museum they were at length broken 
up as of no further use. Mr. Stephen Moore says, 
in conclusion, " the durability combined with the beauty 
of this platted pillar net was beyond any other machine 
wrought net hitherto produced." 

M2 



164 HORIZONTAL LACE PLATTING MACHINES. 

John Moore, finding that platted nets were too ex- 
pensive for general use, turned to the traverse warp 
machine, in the discovery and adaptation of which his 
brother Benjamin enacted so prominent a part. 

This early effort to make so perfect an article as 
a true Mechlin net is very interesting; for it shews 
after what the indefatigable mechanics of Nottingham 
were in search, and to what they aspired a perfect 
imitation of the best foreign cushion lace. An extract 
from G. Henson's MS. on this subject is therefore given : 

"Tarratt went about 1780 into Northamptonshire to observe how 
lone (cushion) lace is made. On his return he tried (for Morris) to 
make twist net by the use of all warp, fastened at both ends, and by 
employing six distinct point bars. In this effort he was followed by 
others as by John Moore, Croydon, for Frost, of Nottingham, in 
1799, and in 1809 by the same machinery improved; by Hill, for 
Nimmo, of Nottingham, 1805 to 1816; by Widdowson, for Messrs. 
Woodward and Urlings, of London, 1816 to 1824. During this 
period the fast warp plat machine sometimes made three twist 
Brussels net, having four threads to a pillar. This machine was the 
swiftest of all modes of putting in twist, but lost time in securing it, 
the point bars being drawn by a windlass. Tarratt and Moore fastened 
the threads at both ends, thus making lace at both ends at once, using 
two point bars. Moore found out a plan of putting the threads on 
(loose) pins at one end, thus unlapping them and making a single 
piece only of net at once. On this plan the Croydon workmen made 
three racks of two hundred and forty meshes each a day. There 
were about twenty machines at work at Croydon, London, Nottingham, 
and Basford." 

In the foregoing extract, Gr. Henson seems to inti- 
mate that John Moore's plan of making plat pillared net 
was identical with one in work from 1816 to 1824, at 
Basford, for Miss Woodward, (connected as embroidress 
with Urlings, of London) by Widdowson. These ma- 
chines were said to have been constructed by or for one 
Mr. Thomas Hill. This invention has also been attributed 
to Jeremiah Brandreth, who was executed at Derby for 
treason ; nothing is known to justify the statement. 
The machines were carefully withheld from public 
inspection. Some time before 1824 Mr. Thomas Robin- 
son had also an interest in them. They were at one time 
removed to rooms on the premises of Mr. Samuel Hall, 
and worked there. His connection with Urlings may 
probably account for this. Mr. John Sisling is possibly 
the only one remaining of those who made this plat net 



HORIZONTAL LACE FLATTING MACHINES. 1G5 

at Basford. A costly and beautiful veil of the finest net 
made on this ground and ornamented with real Brussels 
flowers, is the only specimen now known to remain of 
the kind. The mesh has two pillars of four threads 
thrice platted and two twists on each of two sides and 
three twists on each of the other two sides completing 
each mesh. This square was one of a large number 
sold in 1822, for the then price of fine three-twist 
bobbin net, viz. 1. 5s. per lineal yard, 54 in. wide. 
It must have entailed a serious loss on the maker, and 
though the most excellent machine wrought article ever 
seen, scarcely distinguishable from pillow work in the 
mesh, its cost was beyond the consumption of that day. 
So it soon disappeared from the market. It has been 
replaced ever since, as ground net for the application of 
Brussels pillow sprigs, by extra fine three-twist nets. 
Henson (MS.) remarks : 

" There has not been better lace either in Buckingham or Brussels 
ground than some of these fast warp Brussels machine breadths. They 
had for a time a ready sale at 1. 11s. Qd. a-yard for sixty holes in 
width. Flemish pillow lace of the same width sold for 2. 5s. Qd. 
the yard at the same time." 

Thomas Frost, in 1794, made a net by using 

A square bobbin sliding in grooves, the warp shogging (shifting) 
sideways right and left ; the work beam with the work and point bars 
were lowered to the bobbins as the thread was shortened by making 
the net. Upon turning the machine a quarter round the point tackle 
rose again. There were no carriages. 

In an endeavour to produce bobbin net, carried on by 
Green and Simpson, in 1707 

They wrapped the traversing threads round wires placed in long 
carriages held to their tension by strong springs. These threads rode 
in pivot holes in the springs at one end of the wires, and their other 
ends were in pivot holes in the carriages. By this method good net 
was made ; but the wire held so small a quantity of thread before it 
became too thick to pass through the warp threads that a piece only 
one yard in length could be made upon it. 

Simpson by intense study brought on a brain fever 
from which he died, and Green then abandoned the 
effort, and is said to have died of unremitting and 
unrequited study. 

Afterwards it was proposed to warp each thread on 
two such wires placed a little apart, and so get a piece 



160 HORIZONTAL LACE FLATTING MACHINES. 

of double length. Even in the single tier machines of 
later days when short lengths have been made, it has 
always been an objection, especially in plain nets. 

Mr. William Hayne, the well-known lace manu- 
facturer of Nottingham, constructed the model of a 
machine in 1799, intended to produce bobbin net 

It had several tiers of small bobbins with a rack or teeth on the 
edge of each bobbin ; the main warp threads passing through the 
centres of the bobbins ; the other threads being twisted round the 
centre threads, while revolving after being crossed at the close of 
the hole, then twisting back again. The plan Avas never put into 
operation. 

Mr. Hayne hung up this model in the lobby of his 
warehouse, the purpose being, as he said, " for his 'point 
net' workmen to admire it, and if they could to improve 
upon it." 

About the same time George Pindar, of Nottingham, 
tried to make bobbin net by 

Wrapping his bobbin threads round perpendicular flat wires. He 
also used a perpendicular warp with slaie points, so that he might 
keep the wire bobbins square while they were passing through the 
warp threads. 

Other particulars of the plan have not been handed 
down beyond the above and the fact of its want of 
success. 

In 1806-7 William Potts, .of Nottingham, tried to 
make twist net. 

He used a perpendicular warp fast at one end, the threads of 
which he twisted by passing hooks placed and working at the back 
and front of them, and catching and drawing them sideways round 
each other in passing through them. 

Before he had accomplished his purpose, he went 
to Croydon, where he soon after died, leaving the 
attempted machine in an unfinished state. No doubt he 
went to Croydon to be near John Moore, if not to be 
employed by him on his platting machine. 

In 1808 William Elliott, of Nottingham, employed 
himself in putting together lace machinery. 

He used tubes through which to pass his stationary warp threads, 
and on the outsides of which tubes wore catching instruments whereby 
he carried the traversing warp threads round ; and upon crossing for 
the traverse were racked round and twisted the contrary way. 

The attempt was unsuccessful. 



HOKIZONTAL LACE PLATTING MACHINES. 

The following is a very imperfect account of a 
machine, which was much talked of at the time (about 
1808) attempted by Richard Palmer, of Bingham, where 
he was also engaged in perfecting the processes of stereo- 
type printing : 

In the proposed lace machine he used very small brass bobbins 
shaped like common winding bobbins, having teeth to be racked by 
an under pinion bar ; the warp threads when racked being in the 
teeth, and by having two such bobbin bars the crossing was effected 
by removing the warp threads one bobbin each way. 

This machine was intended to shift the warp from 
bobbin to bobbin by one motion, to make the twist by 
one racking movement, and to run up the twist by 
point bars in the third motion. Palmer died early 
leaving his attempt incomplete. 



( 163 ) 



CHAPTER XIII. 



LACE MANUFACTURE.-1800 TO 1810. 

IT has always been necessary in every business to 
secure not only the best machinery and workpeople, 
but also excellence in materials. This was eminently 
the case with the English and foreign lace trades, 
whether dealing in articles made on the cushion or by 
machines. Both classes were eminently indebted to a 
native of Nottingham, Mr. Samuel Cartledge, for an im- 
provement in the manipulation of fine numbers of doubled 
cotton yarn, whereby that article was first rendered 
suitable -for the manufacture of pillow lace, for which 
linen yarn had hitherto been the chief and almost the 
only material. In the eye of the connoisseur in lace, 
no doubt exquisitely fine linen thread used still for 
imperial and royal purposes will be preferred at whatever 
cost. But for any less exalted purposes the fine cotton 
yarns, which were introduced in 1805 to the acceptance 
of English cushion and machine lace makers, and since 
universally employed both at home and abroad, have 
some special advantages to recommend them. The 
cotton thread is more elastic than linen yarn, therefore 
breaks less in the hands of the lace maker. It gives 
to the finished article a more brilliant appearance, and 
is much less costly. After encountering much and 
deeply rooted prejudice carried to extreme lengths, this 
gentleman succeeded in establishing the use of his care- 
fully twisted and otherwise specially prepared cotton 
lace yarn in the Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire 
pillow lace districts, where, in February, 1815, at a 
meeting of manufacturers 

"It was resolved unanimously that Mr. Samuel Cartledge, of 
Nottingham, is entitled to the thanks of the lace manufacturers for his 
invention of cotton thread used in the manufacture of British lace, 



LACE MANUFACTURE. 169 

and for his introduction of the same to the trade on liberal terms, 
and that the chairman do communicate the same to Mr. Cartledge. 

" (Signed} J. H. HANDSCOMB." 

From thence the use of cotton thread spread to the 
other English lace district of Honiton. And at length, 
just after the resumed manufacture and consumption of 
pillow lace on a large scale in France, it gradually 
became the material of which all but the most expensive 
articles were made (silk excluded), and, according to 
the testimony of M. Aubry, "it is incontestible that 
the use of cotton in place of linen thread, has greatly 
assisted to develope the fabrication of lace by augment- 
ing the consumption and facilitating the production." 

Although silk was used principally in the point net 
manufacture, which was the chief constituent of the lace 
trade at Nottingham from 1795 to 1815; yet there had 
been some amount of warp and other cotton lace made 
from coarse yarns since 1770. The advent of the twist 
net made for years entirely of doubled cotton yarn, and 
which required a strong, and even fine thread, gave 
rapid impulse to the demand for it in its most perfect form. 
Mr. Cartledge gained by supplying this material a 
considerable fortune a well deserved reward for his 
ingenuity and persevering enterprise. 

Messrs. Houldsworth, of Manchester, became spinners of these fine 
first quality yarns. Nos. 200 to 300 were principally used. Their 
nett list in 1805 was for No. 200, 3. 3s. 6d. ; 220, 4. Is. 6d.; 
240, 5. 6s. 6d. ; 260, 7. 3s. 6d. ; 280, 9. 9s. 6d. ; 300, 12. 8s. 6d. 
per Ib. These prices continued for many years ; and as finer numbers 
were enabled to be spun, still more extraordinary prices were obtained 
for them. It is said this house sold in one year 70,000 worth of 
fine yarns for lace purposes alone. In 1812, No. 320 were sold for 
15. 2s. ; 340 for 22. 6s. ; and 352 for 27. 8s. per Ib. Well might 
that very clever and successful house say, when writing in reference 
to their lists of prices, "In making similar researches to these, it is 
some satisfaction to look back upon good old days, when profits and 
prices were more substantial than at present." No. 100 has been sold 
since then for 2s. 4d., and No. 200 for 7s. 6d. per Ib. 

It was in 1808 that Mr. Joseph Page, of Nottingham, 
made the first piece of double press point net, in which 
doubled fine yarn was used. It was sold for 3s. 6d. the 
square yard. 

The following particulars given in 1831 by competent 
authority will afford some idea of the extent of the 



170 LACE MANUFACTURE. 

production of lace thread, and the importance of the 
business to the spinners and doublers of that day : 

There were 608,000 spinning spindles, 251,000 doubling spindles; 
of the latter, half were in or near Nottingham. The total value, in- 
cluding buildings, steam engines, and gearing, was 601,510, requiring 
also a floating capital of 200,000. 

There were 3472 adults employed in spinning, at earnings varying 
from 8s. to 2 weekly, perhaps averaging 17s.; and 3906 children 
gaining 2s. 6d. to 7s. weekly, averaging about 5s. Hands employed 
in doubling: 861 adults from 8s. to 1. 10s. per week, averaging 12s.; 
and 1449 children from 2s. 6d. to 7s., averaging 4s. 6d. 1,730, 000 Ibs. 
of raw sea island cotton wool were consumed, costing 129,750; and 
1,1 10,000 Ibs. of lace thread was produced, of the average value of 
550,000; at that epoch leaving small gains for the employment of 
capital and labour in spinning and doubling cotton yarn of these fine 
numbers. In 1836, 1,850, 000 Ibs. of sea island wool were consumed, 
costing 185,000, producing 1,210, 000 Ibs. of yarn, worth 624,330. 
A large increase in the consumption of cotton yarn of numbers below 
No. 120 has since taken place for the manufacture of curtains and 
' foundation' nets, but an approximate estimate of quantity or value 
cannot be obtained by us. The entire consumption, including that of 
France and Belgium, has now become very great. 

The question of an equitable mode of reckoning in 
payment for work done by those employed in the 
making of any kind of lace on the loom, had for many 
years caused anger and contention, which increased with 
the rapid growth of the trade. The practice of the 
employers in taking in work from the machine was to 
measure out twelve stretched out arms' length of the 
piece, and consider them to be twelve yards, and to be 
paid for as such to the workman. This was manifestly 
so loose, and, by the necessity of the case, so unjust a 
mode of dealing with an elastic article like lace, as to 
make it a matter of surprise that it was borne with 
so long. 

On the 24th August, 1809, the workpeople addressed 
the lace manufacturers then assembled to consider of 
any measures proposed for the good of the trade, and 
pointed out the equity of paying by count in length, 
shewing that the plan was quite feasible. Their me- 
morial was signed and presented by John Blackner, 
the future historian, and three others on the part of the 
workmen. An instrument was devised by Handley, a lace 
maker of Nottingham, (afterwards poisoned in a frolic) 
and Thomas Brookes for the purpose of exact measure- 
ment by the movement of the machine itself acting upon 



LACE MANUFACTURE. 171 

a tooth and pinion wheel, to which were attached a bell 
and hammer which announced the completion of every 
240 meshes in length. To shew these, marks were 
placed on the selvages of the pieces. This ' rack' as it 
has ever since been called, was applied to the point net 
machines in 1810 by James Oakes, a workman of 
Sneinton, and by Mr. William Hayne; and in 1811 
by Thomas Roper, a workman to the warp machine ; 
and to the carrier bar of the bobbin net machines by 
Jonathan Brown, afterwards living at Calais ; and not- 
withstanding the objections of Mr. Nunn, a large lace 
manufacturer at once became universal. It has since 
been the standard of measurement of labour in every 
department of the lace business, and of length from 
the maker in selling to the finisher for the market. As 
a check upon any fraud by the workman, or possible 
error in the rack, it has been the practice to enable 
buyers to ascertain for themselves the length of their 
pieces of traversed twist bobbin net, by filling one 
bobbin with a coloured thread, which placed at one end 
of the row at the beginning of the piece, by its diagonal 
courses, indicates infallibly the number of holes in its 
length. A flagrant case of misdemeanour in this matter 
was punished with marked severity by the Judge of 
Assize before whom it was tried forty years ago ; since 
then similar frauds have become very rare indeed. 
Finished goods are sold by the yard, or dozen yards, 
or the article, as the case may be. 

Where fancy lace is in question, in which there is 
much weaving of fine work, twisting, and pearling, 
combined with little elasticity, the Nottingham manu- 
facturers are beginning (1866), when disposing of these 
goods as they come from the machine, to charge them 
by the yard and not by the rack as hitherto. 

Our narrative now approaches the invention of the 
bobbin net machine. While tracing the events that 
previously occurred in the Nottingham lace manufacture, 
it has been seen that many persons in that district had 
been endeavouring, since the addition of the point net 
machine to the stocking-frame, to produce by machinery 
a more exact imitation of twisted and traversed cushion 
lace, and that some of these died in poverty, and others 



172 LACE MANUFACTURE. 

became insane. The difficulty lay in providing by 
mechanical movements for the threads twisting round 
each other, and then travelling in three separate sets 
or directions ; viz., half of them longitudinally, and of 
the other half part to the right hand diagonally and 
the other part to the left hand diagonally across the 
nets. John Moore and the others, whose ingenious 
labours have been described, had not succeeded in 
solving this problem. They had got the twist but not 
the traverse; the latter being essential to the sound- 
ness of the twisted net. Blackner justly intimates 
" that neither Morris, Lindley, nor Robert Brown made 
traversed net, nor furthered it by their efforts." 

Amongst those who were afterwards engaged in 
these attempts were Edward Whittaker and Charles 
Hood. These names have been much' linked together 
by their connection for a time with each other, and by 
subsequent legal enquiry as to how far they proceeded 
in them, and what was the result of their efforts. The 
accompanying (Plate III.) will give some assistance 
in arriving at an accurate conclusion upon these points. 
It is a facsimile of a pen and ink drawing representing 
the most important parts of their respective machinery 
designed to produce lace. It was exhibited in an action 
in 1813 on the subject of Heathcoat's patent right to 
a bobbin net machine, and is no doubt correct. 

Whittaker was an uneducated man, yet possessed 
of mechanical talent ; but being of intemperate habits 
his application to what he took in hand was fitful and 
uncertain, and as a consequence his circumstances were 
ordinarily very low. In the prosecution of his business 
of a ' setter-up' of machinery, he had taken a warp 
machine to France. On his return, he stated that he 
had there perfected a plan for making bobbin net; 
spoke mysteriously about his speculative movements; 
called some parts of his machinery 'indivisible,' and 
others 'invincible.' At this time Mr. and Mrs. Whit- 
taker lived at New Radford, where Mr. Olive Moore 
knew him ; and though he did not see what he was 
doing, yet remembers it was said afterwards, that 
" Whittaker's bobbin and carriage were the foundation 
of Heathcoat's." 



LACE MANUFACTURE. 173 

Whittaker's own statement was, " that in the machine 
he constructed there were eight or ten threads in an 
inch, and that on it he produced an article shewing 
wavy lines like 'blonde' (Mechlin) net." 

He seems to have used a comb bar like the jack bar of the 
stocking-frame. There was no warp, and all his threads were put on 
bobbins, each of which was fixed in a nick cut in a sort of carriage. 
Every other bobbin had to be lifted over the next one and let down 
into the vacant space. The first ends of the threads were fastened to 
the further end of this horizontal machinery ; and the twist obtained 
was pushed up by the hand. When he attempted to cross the threads 
the bobbins tumbled out of their places. This attempt presents the use 
of a modified shuttle and pirn, or an ill arranged bobbin and carriage, 
not reduced to the space occupied by an interstice of lace ; and the 
other parts, so far as they are known and can be understood, were 
not calculated to attain the end proposed. 

The machinery, before being taken to Loughborough, 
was put into the hands of Leonard Elliott and Edward 
Morley, by James Hood, neither of whom could make 
it work. Mrs. Whittaker, then a widow, stated, in 1815, 
that her husband made some small pieces of lace from 
this machine, in which she said "there were besides 
comb bars and drivers, brass bobbins and carriages 
made by B. Thompson, the brass turner, before it went 
to Loughborough ;" on the same occasion, Mr. James 
Taylor stated : 

"That being partner in 1805 with Mr. James Hood, as hosiers, in 
Nottingham, Whittaker entered into an agreement with him about 
that time to bring and work a model of a bobbin net machine. Seeing 
a small quantity of lace on it, he was supplied with money to construct 
a machine. It had bobbins (called from their size 'guinea wheels'), 
carriages, jacks, comb bars, and drivers or points. Taylor, a joiner, 
made the wood work ; B. Thompson the brass bobbins and carriages ; 
Dalby, of Loughborough, the iron work. After a time Charles Hood 
persuaded them to let the machinery be taken to Loughborough, where 
his tools were. Whittak.er went to instruct in the work. Taylor 
became tired of the delay and expence, and they gave up the business, 
upon which Whittaker returned to Nottingham." 

Mr. James Hood, the partner, also stated 

" That he saw lace attached to the machine, but did not see any 
made; though an additional bonus was to be given to Whittaker 
when the machine was seen to make lace." 

He stated also 

"That he had seen Whittaker make some lace on a cushion, and 
had no doubt now that what was on the machine was thus made. 



174 LACE MANUFACTURE. 

Whittaker was a dissipated fellow, and he (James Hood) having 
expended 500 on the attempt, declined further dealings with him. 
Whittaker' s frame had half the threads drawn from a warp beam 
and half the threads wound on bobbins mounted in carriages." 

On this statement Mr. L. Allsopp, the well-known 
solicitor of Nottingham, has indorsed, "James Hood 
knew nothing of either Whittaker's machine or of 
bobbin net lace." Mr. 13. Thompson, in corroboration of 
Whittaker's claim to having made net by machinery, 
said that 

"He had made, in conjunction with Whittaker in 1804-5, bobbins 
and carriages for a machine intended to make lace, and that they 
were of the same sort and use as those described in John Brown's 
patent of 1811, and without which that machine could not make lace." 

It will be observed that none of these persons speak 
of a portion of Whittaker's threads being put on a warp 
except James Hood, who on that point was certainly 
misinformed, as the following testimony will amply 
shew. 

Whittaker's machinery was shewn to Mr. Sylvester, 
a competent civil engineer, who thus speaks of its 
arrangements and powers : 

" There was no provision for taking up twist by points, as Whittaker 
seems to have been fully employed in contriving to effect the twist. 
No provision was made for shogging by a side movement of the 
bobbins when in one row, except by lateral contact from pressure 
on the end ones, thus moving the whole row sideways. This was the 
probable reason that he only used four or five bobbins, though his 
comb bar was two feet long and the bobbins four to the inch. He 
could not effect a crossing to unite the pairs of threads he had twisted 
together. On his machine that was impossible, and he always spoke 
of it as the ' desideratum.' " 

Mr. Sylvester further stated 

"That having examined the machinery constructed by Morris, 
Robert Brown, John Moore, E. Whittaker, and Charles Hood, he 
found that none of them had two distinct set of threads that could 
traverse, and none of them required bobbins. Whittaker never finished 
a machine of any kind ; his materials when in Charles Hood's hands 
produced some lace ; but it was made without bobbins, was straight 
down, and therefore without traverse." 

Mr. Joseph Harvey, well-known as having accurate 
knowledge of lace machinery, after inspection of this 
range of machines, fully coincided in opinion with 
Mr. Sylvester. Thomas Roper, a setter-up, stated 
that 



LACE MANUFACTURE. 175 

"Whittaker, thinking that Buckinghamshire lace might be 
imitated by machinery, concocted a plan with B. Thompson, of 
machine notoriety, for constructing a model ; and being supplied by 
a Nottingham house with money, they so far succeeded as to complete 
an imperfect model on which they made the twist mesh, but got no 
further." 

Charles Hood, in 1813 and again in 1817, declared 

"That Whittaker had made a kind of machine of wood, tin, and 
iron. One part consisted of what he called bobbins ; they were like 
a lark whistle, and about three or four to the inch. He tried during 
a year to make it work but could not. He shewed Charles Hood lace 
which he said had been made from it, but it could not have been so ; 
no doubt it had been made on a pillow. Whittaker' s machine being 
useless, as one for making bobbin net, he returned to Nottingham." 

Charles Hood was the brother of James Hood, and 
a frame-smith employed by Taylor and Hood. He 
appears to have been a clear-headed mechanic. When 
James Hood began to doubt Whittafcer's ability to 
perfect his machinery, Charles Hood inspected it and 
said that 

" He found there was no beam used, nor any division of threads, 
nor any means of crossing them ; and judging him after a year's un- 
successful efforts unable to devise such a plan, he proposed to James 
Hood to take the thing out of his hands and begin afresh on a method 
of his own. Upon this proposal, in 1806, he, his brother, and John 
Wallis, of Loughborough, set to work to produce a bobbin net machine. 
At first they used rivetted bobbins and carriages, which were lifted 
over one another by pullies, the frame being a horizontal one, and 
thus a twisting process was carried on. They had only one comb bar, 
which was divided into two parts, each to receive half the bobbins 
and reverse them alternately ; every other bobbin being raised half 
the height of the carriage, and then some sharp iron pins entered 
small eyes or holes in the bobbin, by which the lower bobbins were 
raised to the height of the top bobbins and put into their place ; the 
top bobbins took the place of the lower, by which means the twisting 
was made. The next time half the number of bobbins, consisting of 
every alternate two bobbins, the two middle bobbins of every four 
bobbins, namely, a higher and a lower one, were taken up by the 
iron pins and changed as before, by which the crossing was made. 
The above movements were repeated, but the threads only passed 
through the like course returning to their first position, not traversing 
beyond it." 

In conclusion Charles Hood stated 

"That Heathcoat's was the first traversing machine he ever saw 
or heard of. In his own attempt he carried up the twist and the 
crossing a distance of two yards or more, by means of a row of 
wooden and afterwards of iron pins or points. The machine was still 



176 LACE MANUFACTURE. 

imperfect, and he never made lace of greater breadth than nine 
inches and in pieces of two yards in length. Altogether he produced 
about twenty yards on the two frames which he constructed." 

An original outline of this lace is given on Plate 
III., shewing the machinery. Further proceedings 
he said were stayed from want of funds. This plan 
of C. Hood was eventually nearly allied to those of 
John Moore and others, in its mode of getting the twist 
and using yarn in lengths of only a few yards, tied at 
one and weighted at the other extremity. Blackner must 
be under a mistake when he says, "he had a bobbin 
and carriage made he believes in 1803, by a person 
named Hood." Hood nor any one for him speaks of 
such an invention at that date a silence, if the fact were 
so, altogether incredible amidst the discussions then and 
since carried on. 

G. Henson said, " Hood making twist net moved his 
carriages by hand with long fetchers ; he tried to take up 
twist by spoon ticklers, but he could not traverse the car- 
riages." The mention by Charles Hood in his evidence, 
of Mr. John Wallis, of Loughborough, led the author to 
seek an interview with his son, Mr. John Wallis, jun., 
residing at that time (1846) at New Lenton. He was 
well known as a very conscientious man, and one who 
would certainly declare the truth so far as he knew it. 
He stated that 

"He remembered Whittaker's unsuccessful effort to make bobbin 
net lace at Loughborough, and had no doubt that he never made lace 
on his frame. It contained a comb bar, inserted into which were bobbins 
like the drawing (Plate III.) each placed in a slit in its carriage, and 
held there by a spring. Every other one of these was lifted over the 
next and then let down into the vacant space. The others were then 
caused to do the same. The threads were all fastened at the further 
end of the machine, and the twist thus obtained was pushed up by 
the hand. It was after a while evident that Whittaker (who had 
been in France and professed to have got his ideas of making bobbin 
lace by machinery there) knew not how to perfect his machine so as 
ever to make lace upon it, so he was sent away, and Charles Hood 
was entrusted with the further prosecution of this effort by Taylor, 
James Hood, and Wallis. In a while he made two machines on which 
some narrow strips of twist net were made, the first of which was 
sold to Mrs. A. Brewin, of Loughborough. In this machine there 
was only one system of threads ; there were bobbins on which the 
brother of John Wallis, jun. used to wind the threads ; there was a 
comb bar and a row of pins upon a cushion to force up the twist. 
The produce was not a traversed but a straight down twisted net. 



t 

I 








LACE MANUFACTURE. 177 

"Charles Hood was very ' dissipated, and would very likely talk 
at the public-house of what he was doing. If through Bailey or other 
workmen of Heathcoat's, the latter heard something of Whittaker's 
bobbin and carriage, while, he himself was endeavouring to invent a 
bobbin net machine, it was not surprising nor unfair. Heathcoat was 
on rather intimate terms with Wallis, sen. ; but the latter often in 
after years declared the former never put an enquiry, or shewed any 
anxiety for information as to Hood's proceedings, or referred to his 
own. He had been four or five years in getting his first patented 
machine to work ; and the only reason they had for supposing he 
had been assisted in getting so entirely different a one as that described 
in the second patent, was its appearance in the short space of nine 
months after the first. 

" My father gave up supplying Charles Hood with money. James 
Hood treated him haughtily, and sent 20 through another hand to 
Charles Hood, with the message ' that if the lace could not be made 
as fast and as cheap as warp-lace, it would not do ;' on which Wallis 
stopped the concern. Whether anything could ever have been made 
of it under the most favourable circumstances, his father could never 
determine. Some time after, Charles Hood told him that Heathcoat 
was willing to buy the machines for 5, the price of old materials. 
He agreed to the sale, and that Charles Hood should have the 
proceeds." 

The following circumstance which occurred during 
preparations in 1817 for the trial, Heathcoat v. Grace, 
for infringement of Heathcoat's patent, will confirm 
what has been related in reference to Whittaker's pro- 
ceedings. Thomas Abell, a Nottingham lace maker, 
saw one Weston in the Fleet prison, a month before the 
trial, who told him. that he had a model of a machine 
at home which he had bought from Mr. Taylor, late 
partner with Mr. James Hood, and for which Mr. Wm. 
Morley had once offered ten guineas, and he now 
wished to sell it to either of the parties in the pending 
suit. This was communicated to Mr. Boden, Mr. Heath- 
coat's partner, and the model was sent for from Notting- 
ham. Messrs. Abell, Boden, and Farey inspected it, and 
the bobbins sent with it. Weston said he had had it in 
his possession about five years. Taylor being in the 
rules of the Fleet was sent for, and stated "that the 
model was a similar one to that originally made by 
Whittaker for Hood and Taylor, but abandoned after 
a considerable outlay Charles Hood stating that it never 
could make lace and was useless, which opinion was 
indorsed by the judgment of several others from Not- 
tingham. The model before them, was made in 1811-12, 

N 



178 LACE MANUFACTURE. 

after Taylor's partnership with Hood had expired. Not 
being a mechanic, he could not say if lace could be 
made on it, but a coarse kind of lace had been made on 
it by hand" On Abell's telling Weston that this 
model being made after Heathcoat's patent had been 
taken out would be of no use in the cause, Taylor 
said "it was a pity they had not said it was made 
before, and they could make it a few years older, if 
material." Messrs. Boden and Farey corroborated this 
account of the interview, and Farey repeated the 
opinion he had expressed in 1815, that Taylor himself 
understood nothing of the capacity of Whittaker's 
machinery to make lace. 

In the History and Topography of Nottingham, p. 84, 
the following passage occurs in relation to the efforts of 
inventors in that place about the beginning of the 
present century : 

"Certain clever mechanics were exerting their ingenuity in an 
endeavour to improve the manufactures of fine lace, amongst whom 
Messrs. Lindley and Whittaker were very conspicuous. Whittaker 
was a shrewd man and had made many improvements in lace machines, 
but did not produce any very striking result; nor indeed were the 
experiments of Mr. Lindley much more successful, although he 
claims the merit of being the inventor of bobbins and carriages. The 
labours of both these gentlemen were however eclipsed by the efforts of 
Mr. Heathcoat, who produced a machine to work by using many of the 
bobbins and carriages, for which he obtained a patent in 1809. Upon 
this it was insinuated by certain individuals (perhaps envious ones) 
that Mr. Heathcoat had borrowed the inventions from Messrs. Lindley 
and Whittaker, and that instead of being the projector of the machine, 
he had merely embodied the ideas he had stolen from others. The 
credit of the invention is now however pretty generally allowed to 
Mr. Heathcoat, whose machine they called the ' Old Loughborough.' " 

In addition to Lindley, Whittaker, and Hood, there 
were, it is said, twelve or thirteen other mechanics who 
spent several years partly or wholly in pursuit of a 
solution of the problem of forming mechanically a 
twisted and traversed web of lace. Several of these 
persons were men distinguished above the rest for their 
ingenuity and misfortunes. Two of them, Simpson and 
Green, died of disease of the brain brought on by 
unremitting and unrequited study. None of them 
could employ a bobbin and carriage so as to make the 
real net lace. So difficult is this that there is probably 



LACE MANUFACTURE. 



179 



no more instructive lesson in mechanics than to make 
the experiment, and then compare its results with the 
mode in which this was at last accomplished. So 
great was the mystery and such the number of abortive 
attempts which had been made during forty years to 
penetrate it, that the projectors were commonly ranked 
amongst enthusiasts seeking to obtain perpetual motion. 
It was during the latter part of this series of efforts, 
that John Heathcoat entered upon and accomplished the 
task which had baffled so many other clever men. This 
successful mechanician therefore occupies a most impor- 
tant position in the manufacture of lace by machinery. 
Standing midway between the crowd of able men who, 
as inventors, preceded him about the close of the last 
and opening of the present century, and that numerous 
body of clever and useful mechanicians who have 
followed him down to the present time, his invention 
restored and strengthened the foundations of the lace 
trade of Nottingham, decaying through the falling away 
of the manufacture of point net and thus, by the substi- 
tution of bobbin net machinery, developing its productive 
powers, dispensing benefits to the neighbouring traders 
and work people, and by its rapid increase becoming an 
important branch of national industry. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

MR. HEATHCOAT was the son of Francis and Elizabeth 
Heathcoat. His mother's maiden name was Burton. 
His parents, it has been recently ascertained, were living 
at Duffield, near Derby, at the time of his birth, which 
took place on the 7th August, 1783. He had an elder 
brother Thomas, who was for many years before his 
death a large manufacturer of bobbin net at Barnstaple ; 
and a sister, Anne, who was married to Mr. Thomas 
Hallam, in after life the director of Mr. Heathcoat's 
bobbin net manufactory at Paris and St. Quentin. 

Mr. Heathcoat, sen., was a respectable small farmer 
of chiefly grazing land at Duffield. Mrs. Heathcoat was 
a managing housewife, of an affectionate disposition, 
and much beloved by her husband and children. Both 
were always esteemed for their real worth and amiable 
demeanour by their friends and neighbours. Soon after 
the birth of their youngest son, Mr. Heathcoat, sen. 
was stricken with total and permanent blindness. This 
great calamity disabled him from giving active personal 
attention to the business of his farm, which he therefore 
ceased to occupy, and removed about 1790 with his 
family to Long Whatton, near Loughborough a circum- 
stance which has given rise to the statement that his 
son John was born at the latter village. Throughout 
the remainder of his life, the latter part of which was 
passed in easy circumstances at Loughborough and 
prolonged to an advanced age, Mr. Heathcoat, sen. 
maintained much equanimity and cheerfulness of mind 
and temper, with pious submission under his afflicting 
deprivation. In this he was aided by the constant 
assiduity and loving care of his wife, shewn in her 
endeavours to alleviate his loss. He embarked some 




/, 
i //r ^ 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 



181 



money in the purchase of warp machinery, then em- 
ployed in that district to some extent in the manufacture 
of woollen hosiery pieces. For the use of these frames 
the master stocking-makers paid a considerable rent to 
the owners, so that the sum derived from them was often 
a fair portion of the income of a family in moderate 
circumstances. 

Their children received as good an education as a 
village school usually afforded at that time. John was 
taught at one of the neighbouring places, it is not 
quite certain which, but from the circumstance that 
he was remembered to have been seen when a youth 
proceeding towards Hathern daily with his satchel, or 
returning from that side, it is probable that he acquired 
the rudiments of knowledge there. Wherever taught, 
it is related on good authority that his quickness in 
learning greatly surprised his master. Scarcely was 
the task in arithmetic or grammar given, than the 
correct solution and answer was returned. He was 
also distinguished for his thoughtful intelligence and 
quiet manner. He began to read as opportunity offered, 
and having few companions either to hinder or assist, 
he studied hard, acquiring and storing facts in history 
and science afterwards to be used by him with sur- 
prising accuracy. His earliest letters and correct habit 
of speaking shewed his accurate knowledge of English 
grammar and composition. 

It is stated by one of his relatives that Mr. Heathcoat 
was apprenticed to a Mr. Swift to learn the hosiery 
manufacture, but that the place not being found eligible 
for his son, Mr. Heathcoat, sen. by payment of a sum 
of money obtained the cancelment of his indentures. 

Several other accounts agree that he was apprenticed 
to Mr. William Shepherd, a maker of Derby ribbed 
stockings and frame-smith then living at Long Whatton, 
and who became afterwards connected by marriage 
with Mr. Thomas Heathcoat. This second apprentice- 
ship was no doubt entered upon immediately after the 
first was set aside. Some have supposed he was an 
apprentice to Mr. Samuel Caldwell, of Hathern. This 
is an error, as their connection began during his sojourn 
at Nottingham. 



182 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

It is certain that Heathcoat learnt to handle tools 
with dexterity at an unusually early age, and acquired 
an exact knowledge of the stocking-frame and the more 
intricate warp loom. It is even asserted, by one who 
had his confidence, that he had at sixteen conceived the 
thought of inventing a machine to make lace. Of this, 
more will be said in its place from his own lips long 
after that idea was realized. Writing on the subject he 
says, " I was working for my bread ; I tried to invent ;" 
and during his apprenticeship he succeeded in improving 
some part of the warp frame. There is also no question 
but that Mr. Heathcoat early felt the necessity for self- 
help and self-culture, and set his whole faculties to work 
accordingly. It is evident that when but a youth, 
he thoughtfully weighed and cheerfully accepted the 
responsibilities attendant on his station in life, and pre- 
pared to meet them. He ever felt the necessity of 
reliance on himself; and thus, a few years afterwards, 
when appealing to the equitable judgment of the Lord 
Chancellor for protection against infringers on his 
patent, he says, " I had originally no property, and 
have risen entirely by my own ingenuity and industry." 

It was during the latter years of his apprenticeship 
that the young inventor's duties required his frequent 
visits to Kegworth. At that large village there was 
a schoolmaster named Wootton, who taught for years 
many boys living in and near the place. In his school 
the author received valuable instruction, for which he 
reveres his excellent master's memory. Through various 
circumstances the schoolmaster and Mr. Heathcoat be- 
came acquainted by their intercourse with mutual friends. 
Thus far is known. Whether any closer intimacy sprung 
up is not certain ; but from some characteristics common 
to them both that is probable. The schoolmaster was 
self-taught having learnt his alphabet from the grave- 
stones in the churchyard, and was never at school for a 
day; yet he became an excellent English scholar, an 
algebraist, a land surveyor, an astronomer, and a me- 
chanician; and was a noble-hearted man. He would not 
destroy the life of an insect or of a worm ; therefore ate 
no animal food, and his drink was water. But it was 
11 n orrery of his own construction that was the admiru- 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 183 

tion of his pupils and neighbours. It never occurred to 
the author in after years to ask Mr. Heathcoat as to 
the extent of their communications with each other ; but 
in the quiet unpretending science and mechanical skill, 
the high principle and kindly disposition of Wootton, 
there seemed answering traits and sympathies in Heath- 
coat that appeared near akin, and might, if developed 
by friendly intercourse, have assisted to strengthen the 
higher thoughts and incentives in the struggle of life, 
which animated the young aspirant after mechanical 
success and reward. 

While all the other persons described as applying 
themselves to lace inventions, appear to have had one 
or two partners in the prosecution of their experiments, 
Heathcoat, from the time he entered upon this career, 
seems to have planned and executed his schemes alone, 
having neither counsellor nor co-worker in them. His 
first step on the conclusion of his apprenticeship was 
to seek work at Nottingham as a framesmith and setter- 
up of machines. There the most difficult and best 
paid work was constantly on hand, and consequently, 
he would find himself among those mechanics in the 
hosiery and lace trades who were of the highest skill 
and reputation in both businesses. He entered into 
the employment of Leonard Elliott, a man of superior 
skill and well known in the trade, whose shop was 
situated between Broad Street and Beck Lane, and con- 
tinued to work with him for some time as a journeyman. 
At first he received 25s. weekly earnings ; but in a few 
weeks he was found worth and received three guineas 
a- week. Mr. John Farmer, of Nottingham, then himself 
a working framesmith, recollects often seeing Mr. Heath- 
coat at work wearing his white apron in this shop. 
There he could not help daily hearing more or less 
talk, acquainting him with the sanguine hopes of the local 
mechanics in regard to lace machinery being made to 
imitate real pillow productions. Elliott related to the 
author, in 1849, that "Heathcoat had been brought up 
chiefly in setting up coarse hosiery frames of each kind. 
He was himself mostly employed in setting up fine 
warp frames. Heathcoat had obtained a thorough prac- 
tical knowledge of mechanical powers and contrivances ; 



184 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

was inventive, persevering, undaunted by difficulty or 
mistakes, and consequent temporary want of success; 
patient, self-denying, and very taciturn. But he had 
surprising confidence, that by right application of me- 
chanical principles to the construction of even a bobbin 
net machine, his efforts would be crowned eventually with 
success." To this object he gave unremitting attention 
during every hour of leisure that he could command. 
After a short continuance in the service of Elliott, he 
purchased from him the tools and goodwill of the busi- 
ness, and carried it on upon his own account. While 
Heathcoat was thus engaged in the occupation of 
making new and repairing other stocking and warp 
looms, he won the approbation and respect of those 
who gave him employment, by his talent for inven- 
tion, general intelligence, and the sound and sober 
principles that governed his conduct. He thus obtained 
the highest remuneration that the business of setter-up 
would at that time allow. By these means he appears 
also to have obtained the confidence and respect of intelli- 
gent and observant artizans around him, while he was 
realizing funds to enable him to prosecute the experi- 
ments he had now entered upon. 

It was during this period, and soon after Mr. Heath- 
coat had attained the age of twenty-one, that he became 
acquainted with, and married, Ann, the daughter of 
Mr. William Caldwell, of Hathern. She was a widow, 
and somewhat older than himself. They resided while 
at Nottingham, in a house on the Long Stairs, since 
taken down. Mrs. Heathcoat was an active, thoughtful, 
and clear-minded woman, and always shewed great 
simplicity of mind and taste. She was a notable 
manager and an excellent wife and mother: doing 
honour to her husband's choice in the guidance through 
very varied circumstances of her family and household. 
There never appeared in her any wish to forget her 
former station, or the early labours and trials of her life. 
On the contrary, upon suitable occasions, she would refer 
to them with becoming expressions of gratitude; and 
being endowed with much practical good sense, adapted 
herself without difficulty to the growing elevation of her 
position in society. 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 



185 



The Mr. William Caldwell, just named, was originally 
a Derby -ribbed stocking- weaver, but he became an 
excellent framesmith and a setter-up of some note at 
Hathern. Mr. Heathcoat's marriage with his daughter 
and connexion in a mechanical patent with his son, 
Samuel Caldwell, had some beneficial influence in his 
rapid progress as a mechanician, and probably led him 
to give up the promising business in which he had so 
recently embarked, and his residence in Nottingham. 
He had now fully determined to enter upon the course 
of invention- on which his thoughts had so long dwelt, 
and although proximity to the skill existing in Notting- 
ham might have its advantages, yet to depend on 
his own at some distance, would be more safe in the 
process of completing his contemplated invention. He 
therefore decided to remove for a time to Hathern, to 
which step he was also moved by the following cir- 
cumstance. 

For some years the wife of one Thomas Hancock, a 
journeyman to Caldwell, being a Northamptonshire 
woman, knowing how to make lace upon the cushion, 
and having the bobbins and parchments used by her in 
that kind of hand labour, employed herself in making 
lace. Heathcoat saw her at work from time to time, 
and acquainted himself fully with the manner of pro- 
ceeding in this beautiful but intricate art. The know- 
ledge thus acquired he was not slow in putting to use, 
as we shall see in his own account of the progress of 
his two next and most important inventions. 

It has been already mentioned that Mr. Heathcoat's 
first improvement in machinery was patented by 
" Samuel Caldwell, of Hathern, Leicestershire, frame- 
smith, and John Heathcoat, late of Nottingham, now of 
Hathern, frame setter-up." The patent was taken out 
in 1804, No. 2788, and was "for a new apparatus to be 
attached to warp frames, whereby all kinds of thread 
lace and mitts of a lacy description may be made." 
Several improvements were set forth in it : 

First, to place layers of flannel on the warp beam at intervals 
while filling it, and so to keep it soft and preserve the elasticity of 
the thread. Second, to make the needles more square at the hook 
heads, and so to admit the passage of knots in the thread without 



186 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

breaking it. But principally, third, by putting on an extra guide bar 
and breaking out guides at intervals, and employing there the separate 
guides ; where breadths required dividing, a lacing thread was worked 
in, which only required to be withdrawn, and a clear and neat pearl 
selvage was left on each of the edges of the breadths. For accom- 
plishing this, a division presser, and an instrument called from its use 
a preventer, were added to the warp frame. In work there was a 
common course made and then a lapping course, usually followed by 
a connection course and another lapping course. According to the in- 
tended mesh there were two or three lapping courses made. 

The contemplated results were found to have been 
anticipated by a previous invention, of which they had 
not heard. 

In 1805, Caldwell took out a patent, No. 2879, in his 
own name only for a machine to be added to stocking 
and other plain frames. Immediately before the date of 
the former joint patent, Mr. Heathcoat had removed his 
residence to Hathern. Either on his father's account 
or his own he became connected with Mr. Jelbert, an 
attorney at Kegworth, in some warp machinery, and 
for a time was often at the latter place. The untimely 
death of this gentleman put an end to that business. 
Jelbert did not advance funds towards prosecuting the 
experiments for making a twist machine. These occu- 
pied a period of about three years, commencing 1805, for 
in that year one John Bailey, a frame-smith, conversant 
with the warp machine states, he entered Mr. Heath- 
coat's service as a setter-up of warp frames, and became an 
inmate of his family, then transferred to Loughborough. 

This Bailey gave, in 1813, a clear written statement 
of some important circumstances which transpired under 
his own eye. This possesses considerable interest in 
tracing the course of the inventions contained in the two 
first bobbin net patents. It appears that Bailey first 
met Edward Whittaker, to whom considerable reference 
has already been made, at Charles Hood's, both living 
at Loughborough in 1805, and Hood was then in busi- 
ness as a frame-smith there, but not acquainted with 
Heathcoat. Hood informed Bailey in 1808 that Whit- 
taker had endeavoured to make a lace machine, but after 
several trials could not succeed, which had induced him 
to advise Taylor and Hood to give Whittaker up. On 
Bailey informing him of this attempt of Whittaker's, 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 



187 



Heathcoat shewed Bailey lace that he had already made 
upon his own first frame. Parts of this machine the work- 
men had seen, and knew they were not belonging to their 
warp machinery, but on seeing, in January, 1808, the 
completed machine which their employer first patented, 
the mystery was cleared up. Heathcoat had sometimes 
expressed wonder if ever Buckinghamshire lace would 
be produced by machinery, and Bailey thought it 
impossible, as warp machines on which they were then 
engaged required twenty threads to an inch, whereas 
pillow lace must have double that number, besides 
allowing the necessary space for twisting the threads. 

Till 1808, Bailey had not seen the machine, only 
the lace from the model. Now he was taken from warp 
frames and set to work on the new inventions for the 
second patent frame, and made many parts of them. 
The first patent frame made narrow breadths and 
required great width for the expansion of the threads. 
The construction of the second for wide nets was atten- 
ded by great difficulties, as the machines differ altogether, 
except in the points and work-beam. When he began to 
assist, Heathcoat had laid aside the first machine and 
begun the second. 

Charles Hood had continued his attempts to con- 
struct a twist net machine for two or three years ; but it 
was Bailey's conviction, that during that time no com- 
munication had passed between him and Heathcoat. 
But when the latter had joined Lacey in 1808, then 
Hood entered into their employ as a frame-smith. 

After this, by Heathcoat's desire, Bailey and one 
Johnson (since dead) inspected Whittaker's machinery, 
consisting of some bobbins and two bars, which they 
were of opinion could not have produced lace of any 
sort. Charles Hood then shewed them a machine, said 
to be of his own construction, and the one on which a 
piece of lace previously shewn had been made. There 
had been only one set of threads used, which were 
longitudinal, and in passing each other they were 
merely twisted once; so that being made only of 
threads travelling straight down, if one were withdrawn, 
the net would divide; it could not possibly traverse. 
Charles Hood at first used bobbins ; but when Bailey 



188 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

saw it, he was using small bits of tin to which the 
threads were tied, which plan he said he preferred. 

In January, 1808, when Bailey saw the first patented 
machine, there was a skeleton model of the second, 
including the comb-bars, but no bobbins. From the 
construction of the parts, Heathcoat must have in- 
tended to use bobbins. 

Heathcoat bought Charles Hood's tools after the 
bobbins for the second patent frame had been provided ; 
and Bailey had no reason to believe that he had any 
knowledge of either Whittaker or Hood's bobbins to 
help him to construct his machine. There was no such 
alteration in it as to indicate that he had benefitted by 
seeing it in the construction of his own. Charles Hood 
told Bailey he received 30s. for Whittaker' s portion, and 
5 for his own. These sums were their value as old 
materials. Both Hood and Bailey stated, that Heath- 
coat never showed any anxiety to possess Whittaker or 
Hood's machinery ; but they asserted that Hood's neces- 
sities were the sole cause of their being offered to, and 
so far as they knew, of their being purchased by him. 
He did not hesitate to express his regret in after years 
that he had bought them, as it proved a needless com- 
plication of the question, which arose in regard to his 
second bobbin net patent. 

The various operations of the workers in hand lace 
have been described in a former chapter. 

This process of making lace on the pillow is a very 
slow one ; on an average about five meshes in a minute 
can be produced, where the usual number of twists are 
given. This may easily be conceived, by noticing 
that every cross and each twisting of two threads and 
the shifting of each pin are so many distinct movements 
of the hands. It is evident, therefore, that a machine 
having the means of acting upon every pair of threads 
throughout the breadth of lace desired to be made, for 
the purpose of crossing and twisting, and also to give 
motion to the pins to be successively placed in the new 
meshes throughout this entire breadth, would greatly 
increase the speed and facilitate the production of such 
lace. 

On examining cushion-made lace, half the threads 



45 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 




Fiy.l 



1 b 9 3 11 1 13 2 12 4 10 6 8 
Twc Twist \Bobbin 2fet wfaeft. making, shewinff tfr<e diagonal traversing of 

or weft t 



Fiy. H 




Two Twist Jiofrbvn Net when takan e 




Fiy. 3 



aversed Jtrusseb Net. 




jfour Twi^t untraversetl ctdleti Sfuarelfof, it is Tiofr crossed 
at- the corner 0f mejfo. 




Gzll&l Platted Nef'. - }u**>ingjjfa,ttKdjr'ur threeujyi<Uars andjbvs- su 

of two tfieasfe twisted, frut /wt traversed. 



Camiriofyr 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 189 

are found to proceed in wavy lines from end to end 
of the piece, which may be called warp threads. The 
other threads lying between the former pass from side 
to side by an oblique course to the right and left, 
and may be called weft threads. The inventor of 
the machine to produce the same results, considered 
that if he could place the warp-threads in it under such 
circumstances as that they should be all capable of 
moving either absolutely, or relatively with regard to 
the other threads, so as to concur in effecting the twist- 
ing and separation or crossing before described, but 
without deviating otherwise either to the left or the 
right ; and that if he could also place the weft-threads 
so that they should effect the twisting by similar 
motions at the same time, that half these weft-threads 
should proceed at each operation to the left, and the 
other half to the right-hand (a substitute being also 
found for the pins), he would make lace exactly as it is 
done on the cushion, but with many advantages as to 
speed and cost. 

Heathcoat's first plan, patented in 1808, No. 3151, effected this for 
the first time by machinery, so far as traversed bobbin net is in question. 
It was accomplished upon a machine whose parts and operations may 
be thus described : There were two beams, the one placed under the 
other in the same perpendicular line. Also threads divided into two 
sets, one of which was intended to work longitudinally, the other 
diagonally. The longitudinal set were wound upon the lower beam 
and were passed to the upper beam to which they were separately 
attached, and on which the work was wound up. The diagonal threads 
were wound upon bobbins resembling in the part occupied by the 
thread those used in making lace by hand. These bobbins were so 
arranged between the beams, that their threads proceeded collaterally 
with the longitudinal threads to the upper beam, and were inserted 
in the same points on the beam. Each of the longitudinal threads 
on its way to the upper beam passed through a conical tube, at the 
lower end of which was a small pinion. The upper part of the tube 
divided into two parts, cut in the direction of its length ; one part 
contained the pinion at one end of it, and the longitudinal thread 
which passed through its hollow parts. The other section contained 
the bobbin on .which the diagonal thread was wound. When the two 
sections were put together, the whole consisted of a conical tube 
having a pinion at its lower extremity, and containing a longitudinal 
and a diagonal thread. The number of these tubes was equal to the 
number of each kind of thread. Their arrangement was such that 
all the pinions lay in the circumference of a circle, while the centres 
of the other ends of the tubes pointed to its centre. All the pinions 
could be moved round at once by rack work, the teeth of which cor- 



190 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

responded with the pinions. This motion was to cause each pair of 
threads contained in each tube to twist at the same time. The crossing 
of the diagonal threads as observed in the process by hand, was 
performed in the whole breadth at once as follows : that part of the 
tube which contained the diagonal threads would be removed from 
the rest, and the whole of these parts would be lifted up together ; 
while they were in this position, one half of them were caused to 
move one place to the right and the other one place to the left ; and 
as each section of one would fit any of the others, when the lifted 
parts were let down again, each tube would have changed its diagonal 
thread, which would effect the crossing of these threads throughout. 
The pins by which the uniformity of the meshes was preserved, were 
all placed upon a moveable bar, and could all be inserted at once. 
Thus the crossings were first made by one motion, which interchanged 
the bobbins containing the diagonal threads. 

The twisting was next performed by the revolution of the tubes 
containing the two threads to be twisted. The pins were then all 
shifted at once to regulate the new meshes formed by the crossing 
and twisting. As a whole, this was undoubtedly an entirely new 
compound instrument. 

This machine was calculated to make one such 
breadth of lace as is usually made on the cushion (which 
seldom exceeds three inches) and with all the expedition 
possible. In order to obtain pieces of cushion lace of 
greater breadth, the narrow pieces would be joined 
together by the needle. It was desirable therefore to 
devise the means whereby pieces of the full breadth re- 
quired might be made, and so avoid the expence and 
unsightly effect of joinings. Upon the completion and 
setting fairly to work next year, 1809, of Heathcoat's 
second patented bobbin traverse machine, the first was 
at once disused ; and except in the specification and 
drawings, no means remain of obtaining a competent 
idea of what it was like, as Mr. Heathcoat did not 
preserve one at Tiverton a singular oversight now 
much to be regretted. To supply the means of form- 
ing a general idea of its construction, a drawing of 
this machine is given in Plate V. 

In regard to various important discoveries and in- 
ventions in other departments of business, there has been 
reason to regret that little or no authentic information 
has been forthcoming of their origin, and the early steps 
taken to bring them into practical operation. The fol- 
lowing papers written down at the times and under the 
circumstances stated, will therefore be read with in- 
terest; Mr. Heathcoat having been requested, without 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 191 

previous notice or premeditation in either instance, to 
narrate the facts : 

" Some particulars of the invention of the bobbin net machines, 
patented, No. 3151 in 1808, and No. 3216 in 1809 by John Heath- 
coat, esq., as stated by him, 18th June, 1836, to Mr. T. B. Sewell 
and Mr. William Felkin. (Taken down in short hand by the latter 
while Mr. Heathcoat was speaking.) 

"When I was a boy at Long Whatton, in Leicestershire, with my 
mother, a girl used to come in to see her, whose cousin had been 
employed at the factory of one Dawson, in London, whom she de- 
scribed as having made a fortune by making lace upon machinery. 
On one of these calls this girl turned round to me and said, jocularly, 
' Why can't you do so too, John ?' This fixed my attention so much, 
that although it occurred forty years ago, it returns to my recollection 
even now. I do not mean to attach too great importance to this 
incident, yet no doubt it had an influence in the direction of my 
thoughts and energies at a future period of life. Point net was then 
made, and the lace trade excited some interest. About the time 
I grew up towards manhood, warp piece goods (not lace) were also 
beginning to be made. I worked for my bread, and I tried to invent. 
I did so by finding out a different mode of carrying the thread in the 
warp machine to what was in ordinary use, viz. passing the thread 
over the needles on which the loops had been formed immediately 
above the threads, and also over the next needle, so as to form a kind 
of lace. But I soon learnt that this had been discovered before, 
though I had then no knowledge of it. The first warp machines 
were making 'Berlin,' and the person with whom I then worked 
altered one to make 'mitts' of a lacy appearance, and approaching 
the lace fabric. A man about that time made four and six course 
warp. For a time it was supposed by many that the difference 
between pillow and machine lace was solely in the material used ; 
but every body soon knew that they were unlike in some other respects, 
and it was ascertained that the texture was different. I set to work 
to inform myself in what the peculiarity in the texture of pillow lace 
consisted, and for this purpose obtained a sight of the process of 
making it. A pretty heap of chaotic materials I found it ! Like peas 
in a frying-pan dancing about. After watching the progress of the 
workwoman and minutely examining the lace, I found much difficulty 
from the circumstance that a thread which had been carried for a time 
lengthwise, sometimes became a traversing one, and vice versa. It 
was impossible under the natural supposition that this was a part of 
the system, and not as it really was, an irregularity, for me at first 
to trace the course of the threads so as to understand their ordinary 
and regular progress. At length I made out that one part were 
passed to the right-hand, another to the left, and a third seemed to 
be independent of them, never deviating in their course, but always 
passing straight through the length of the piece. This part of the 
threads I saw might be put on a beam for a warp ; and it was this 
discovery that simplified my subsequent progress in attempting to 
mechanize the processes of the pillow. 

"In my first attempt mechanically to make bobbin lace, the 
bobbins were arranged in a fan-like order on pinions, and thus 



192 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

radiating they were made to twist round each other, and a row of 
pins forced up the crossing to close the mesh. These pins were fixed 
on a bar, but they spread out and contracted ; lying between guides, 
they expanded on receding, and contracted when brought in contact 
with the work forcing up the twist and the crossing, until the meshes 
became of the right size and shape. By this arrangement and process, 
only very narrow strips could be made. However I constructed a 
machine to produce three such pieces at a time. Lord Lyndhurst, 
then Serjeant Copley, always said that this machine was far the most 
ingenious of any upon which lace was ever made. 

" The value of lace is however so much enhanced by its being 
made of greater width, that I was determined to make it even a yard 
wide. At this time I had arrived at the important point, that having 
actually made lace as above described, I had satisfied myself my 
principles were sound and well based. But I now clearly found out 
that while half the threads must be active, the other half might be 
passive, and I therefore put the latter on a beam. Having thus 
fixed the warp, to accomplish my wish for making wider lace, 
I tried to bring the threads to twist in a narrower compass. 
I first tried a machine with the bobbins spread out ; then I tried the 
flat bobbin. The first flat bobbin machine was a single tier. I carried 
up the threads by means of a steeple top on the carriage. Great 
difficulty was experienced in getting bobbins and carriages thin 
enough, the space in which they were to move being so limited. At last, 
I was driven to the doulle tier, and thus obtained the requisite space. 

"All that I knew of previous attempts, and all that I now believe 
had ever been previously done, was this. Moore had by mechanical 
means and arrangements obtained a twist on both sides, by carrying 
threads over each other and then back again. I did not then know 
of this plan, it came to my knowledge afterwards. Whittaker made 
a machine in which were eight or ten threads to an inch, (and as he 
said) producing an article having wavy lines like blonde in effect and 
made entirely by the use of bobbins ; but the implication in lire's 
statement, that Whittaker had made thin bobbins to gain the space 
necessary for them to pass, is not true. His comb bar was like the 
jack bar of a stocking-frame, and in several respects the machine 
presented impossibilities for making lace. In some cases ten times 
too much thread would have been given off from the bobbins. 

" Charles Hood's tools having been offered me for purchase, and 
himself desiring work as a smith, I bought them of him. On looking 
over these tools I found amongst them a bar resembling the jack bar 
of a stocking- frame. He told me that Whittaker had shown him a 
bit of lace said to have been made upon a machine, but which Hood 
stated he had ascertained was not, but was most probably made by 
hand. Hood asserted that lace had never been made upon Whittaker' s 
machine, and I saw that it never could. Hood tried however to 
modify the machine, hoping to accomplish this end. He laid aside 
the bobbins, and used plates of iron to which the threads were tied ; 
and by alternate movements he made lace ; but it was like Moore's 
lace, it had no traverse. The lace was made on a horizontal plane, at 
one end he carried up his twist by bits of wood, which passed between 
the threads and drove up a twist and the crossing at the same time 
perhaps the space of two yards. These attempts of Whittaker and 
Hood were decidedly the only things of which I knew before my 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

patent, in which there was any approach towards making twist or 
bobbin net lace. The one had tried to make it all by bobbins, but 
never did nor ever could by his machine thus make it ; the other made 
lace, but not bobbin net lace. But before then, nor to this day, have 
I ever heard of any one besides myself, who had entertained the idea 
of separating the threads, placing part in a warp, and using the re- 
mainder in bobbins, and thus making lace. 

"The stocking- frame has certain parts used in my bobbin net 
machine ; the point net frame, the warp machine, the Vaucanson 
loom, even the old weaving loom, and many others, have all one or 
more of those mechanical principles or arrangements used in my 
machine. I do not claim the invention of a bobbin itself; but I had 
great difficulties to surmount in getting one thin enough. The 
foundation of my invention was in getting rid of half the threads 
by the warp beam ; but then came the enquiry how the rest were to 
be got to twist in the proper space. Were this now to be done, my 
impression is that so great was the difficulty, I should not attempt 
its accomplishment. 

"I admit the merits of other men. Brown's with his shuttle for 
the fishing net machine, or Whittaker's for his bobbin. Brown's 
machine I never saw ; his specification I had a knowledge of. I had 
-also a knowledge of certain parts of Whittaker's. I allow them the 
credit of their materials ; I took up their crude materials, and I claim 
all that is intermediate between these mate'rials and the bobbin net 
machine. My claim will be allowed I am persuaded by the suffrage 
of every man competent to form a judgment of mechanical inventions. 
Is it just to deprive me of all claim to invention in this matter, while 
it is accorded to each of those who have followed me in respect of 
their modifications ? For there is not any new principle involved in 
any of their arrangements ; they have all worked upon my principles 
of dividing warp and bobbin threads, twisting, and crossing ; and the 
machine, however modified, is still the same as my ' Old Lough- 
borough' in every essential principle. I allow them credit for the appli- 
cation of great and very useful ingenuity ; but they have only modified 
the machine, not invented it. I illustrate the case thus : A child in 
his first successful effort to walk across a room does all in fact that 
a man does neither so safely, so rapidly, or so well ; but every 
element of locomotive power is there, and every muscle is in action; 
he walks as truly as a man." 

These concluding observations were made by Mr. 
Heathcoat in consequence of a reference made that 
forenoon to Dr. Ure's statements in his History of the 
Cotton Manufactures, vol. n. pp. 342, &c., the substance 
of which has been given at p. 160, in describing Robert 
Brown's patent. And also because Ure speaks of 
Morley, Levers, John Brown, Sewell, and others, as 
' Inventors,' in regard to the altered and for the most 
part improved machines known by their names, but has 
withheld that title in regard to Heathcoat, although 
he had allowed that : 

o 



194 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

"To him belongs the distinguished honour of solving the very 
difficult problem, and of practically demonstrating that a machine might 
be made to satisfy the wants and wishes of the trade. His first opera- 
tive scheme was the result of many troublesome trials, which would 
have baffled a man of ordinary talent and enterprize. At length, in 
1809, he had so far matured his plans as to warrant his securing their 
exclusive use by a patent famous for its pecuniary productions, and 
for its being the fruitful parent of many mechanical constructions 
eminently subservient to the trade and commerce of the kingdom." 

Mr. Heathcoat and Mr. Sewell afterwards examined 
Brown's fishing net patent together at the Petty Bag 
Office, on the morning of this conversation, the author 
being with them; and Mr. Sewell on his return to 
Nottingham remarked to the latter, on the subject of 
Dr. lire's and Mr. Heathcoat's statements 

"That if a machine to make nets by the use of bobbins be a 
'bobbin net machine,' Kobert Brown's may be called one ; but that it 
possesses nothing whatever to entitle it to be called a ' bobbin net 
lace machine,' or a ' twist machine.' With the exception of a thin 
bobbin inserted into a slit made in a piece of iron to receive it, it does 
not possess any of the essential principles or arrangements of the 
bobbin net or twist lace machine, which Mr. Heathcoat claims to have 
invented ; and the introduction of which lies at the foundation of what 
is called the 'bobbin net lace trade.' The twisting of the threads 
is nowhere described in Robert Brown's specification; nor is the 
machine, as specified by him, calculated to accomplish this purpose." 

In the year 1844, being on a visit to Mr. Heathcoat 
in London, and having some reason to fear the former 
statement, made in 1836, which was mislaid might be 
really lost, he was requested to give the opportunity for 
the facts to be secured, by stating them afresh to me. 
As he spoke they were written down ; not only is the 
statement corroborative, it also gives supplementary 
matter of considerable interest. It is therefore copied 
from the original MS. : 

"Amongst the earliest things which engaged my attention in 
regard to lace, was to ascertain its composition by obtaining a piece 
of pillow lace. I drew a thread, which happened to draw for an 
inch or two longitudinally straight, then started off diagonally. The 
next drew out straight. Then others drew out in various directions. 
Out of four threads concurring to make a mesh, two passed one way, 
the third another, the fourth another still. But at length I found 
they were in fact used in an orderly manner. This process was to 
answer the question in my own mind, Can this be made mechanically ? 

" I then saw a woman working on a pillow with so many bobbins 
that it seemed altogether a maze. However I at length perceived, 
that after certain twisting of two for instance one round the other, 
and then other two the one round the other, then one of each of 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 195 

these pairs was selected, and they were then made to change places 
forming a cross, which cross was taken up lay a pin, the pin being 
secured by a hole in the parchment placed to receive it. The twisting 
was then resumed between the changed and the unchanged bobbin 
in regard to each of the two pairs of thread. By this process there 
would be formed the last half of one mesh, and the crossing between 
that and the next, and the first half of the succeeding mesh. Now 
that which at first appeared to be an unmanageable and complicated 
mass of dependent bobbins, by process of observation resolved them- 
selves into two great classes ; those, namely, which by the workwoman 
were twisted with the others, yet always retained their position to 
them relatively in a longitudinal direction ; and those which having 
been used in the process of twisting round the former, travelled the 
one part to the right, the other to the left, in the case of the formation 
of the crosses, constituting the top and bottom of the meshes. The 
result of this observation was to make this impression on my mind, 
that although for the making of lace on a pillow, this great division 
into two parts of the threads and bobbins might not be useful, yet 
if ever lace were made on a machine, it was quite possible to take 
the one half out of the dependent and mixed up condition I saw them 
in on the pillow, and place them upon a beam, making the twist 
solely by the rotation of the other threads in the passing them round 
these thus placed. Having got to this point, I took pack-thread and 
put upon a sort of frame, so as to be fixtures, that portion which 
I saw were to perform the office of longitudinal threads ; a like 
number, constituting the other half of the threads, I put each on a 
sort of bobbin, so as to be disposable and transferable into the 
positions necessary to perform the two operations of making the 
crosses by changing places with each other, and forming the twists 
with those lengthwise, by being passed round them the proper number 
of times. Thus a succession of these operations produced a number 
of meshes, of a like construction with those I had witnessed made on 
the pillow by the female referred to. 

"My first ideas of the application of machinery to this process 
therefore followed these processes of the pillow, with the modification 
of withdrawing half the threads and placing them upon a beam, and 
making all the evolutions solely by the use of the other threads which 
I placed upon bobbins. 

' 'As to making lace of ordinary fineness, forty threads being requisite 
in each inch in width of lace, though I had got rid of twenty of 
these, I still required twenty bobbins to make an inch in width ; these 
bobbins being similar in shape and principle to those used in pillow 
operations, the space they occupied in the machine I now projected 
and proceeded to construct, was much more than the width of the 
inch of lace when formed, consequently they radiated towards the 
point of formation, and I soon found the difficulty arising from 
the outer bobbins giving off too much thread, placed as they at 
first were in this straight line. I was compelled therefore to place 
them in a segment of a circle, so as that each bobbin might be at 
exactly the same distance from the meshes as the others, in whatever 
part the traverses required to form the net might place them. This 
circular arrangement of the bobbin threads, so as to give them equal 
tension during every part of the processes, has been adopted in the 

o2 



196 Till: TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

original machine, and, with one exception, which has long since ceased 
to be used, ia every modification of it until the present time. The 
arrangements ever since used by which the bobbin threads were made 
to twist, to traverse, and to close the mesh, have been in principle the 
same as those specified in my patents of 1808 and 1809. 

" This first machine may be considered as a mechanical pillow ; 
(see Plate V.) but while half the threads were on a warp roller beam 
and half on bobbins, and the crosses carrying before them the twists, 
were forced up by a row of pins placed on a bar to the work roller 
above, each operation was performed along the line of threads at once. 
The twist, the crossing, the traversing, and at length the whole line of 
meshes across the machine, were each one in succession performed 
and finished together. 

"I consider that this my first bobbin net patent machine did for 
the making of lace in relation to the pillow, what the jenny did for 
the spinning of yarns in relation to the old long wheel. The processes 
were in principle the same, in the jenny as in the mode of spinning 
upon the long wheel, mechanically performed in the drawing out, 
twisting, and winding upon a cop, of a number of threads at once 
instead of one. This lace machine not only however performed the 
consecutive operations necessary for the formation of one such mesh 
in relation to many meshes, but required and secured the adoption of 
certain principles of selection and division, to be applied to a vast 
mass of hitherto very complicated materials, and that presented 
practical mechanical difficulties which I found to be of no ordinary 
character. Two or three years of study and experiment were employed 
in overcoming them. 

" Though highly spoken of by Lord Lyndhurst as to its mechanical 
construction, yet for practical purposes this first machine was super- 
seded by the one which was the subject of the second patent, 1809. 
Lace of an inch or so in width, made upon the first patent plan, was 
inserted in a child's cap, worn and washed to test its capacity of 
resistance. It was taken to Mr. Lacy, asked to be left, and was sent 
to London. Mr. Lacy in company with Mr. James Fisher saw me 
at Nottingham, or at Loughborough, where these experiments had 
been carried on. I was asked what width I could make it, if more 
than an inch or two. I had not thought of this as a thing to be 
desired, but said I thought I could bring my bobbins within the width 
of the lace, and if so I could go any width. This gave my thoughts 
a new direction. The division into warp and bobbins became more 
important than ever. Setting to work to get the bobbins into the 
space of the lace to be made, brought me to adopt the thin or flat 
bobbin instead of the round one. The next point made was to put 
the warp into the exact width of the lace also. My plan being for a 
single tier, the bobbins and carriages were put in this single row, and 
past altogether through the movements from side to side of the 
machine, then were divided for the crossings, then reunited to repeat 
the former motions. But the difficulty of obtaining at Loughborough 
well-made bobbins and carnages, the latter being very long in order to 
form the twist as near the work as possible, led me to attempt dividing 
the carriages and bobbins into two rows or sets, so as to perform their 
functions respectively, without periodical separation, and at once to 
relieve myself, by being enabled to use a bobbin and carriage twice 
the thickness of those previously employed. See Plates VI. and VII. 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 197 

"In thus bringing tlie second patented machine, called from the 
place where its construction was finally accomplished, "the double 
tier Old Loughborough" the mental labour was very great. When 
puzzled and fatigued by endeavouring to overcome difficulties (which 
often occurred), I was enabled to exercise the happy faculty of entirely 
quitting the subject, and by reading or other occupation of the mind 
to refresh it." 

Mr. Heathcoat we find has described to more than 
one of his other friends, that when he had decided to lay 
aside the first patented machine, on which indeed he had 
made but little net and of course received but trifling 
returns, he began his experiments with a view to the 
second by suspending common pack threads from a beam 
placed aloft across the room for warp threads ; then he 
passed the weft threads by common plyers, delivering 
them to other plyers on the other side, and after giving 
them a sideways motion, the threads were repassed back 
between the adjoining cords, receiving by this a twist, 
and the meshes were then ready to be closed by hand 
as upon the pillow. Here was the incipient movement 
between the warp threads of the future bobbins and car- 
riages. The original drawings of the different coloured 
threads, beam, twistings, and crossings described above, 
are now in the author's possession. 

Thus Heathcoat invented the second machine calcu- 
lated to make lace of any breadth required, and for 
which he took out a patent, 14th July, 1809, No. 3216. 
In his specification he entitles it "a machine for the 
making and manufacturing of bobbin lace, or lace 
nearly resembling foreign lace, by which means such 
lace would be made to much greater advantage than by 
any other mode hitherto practised, and from the use 
of which would result a considerable decrease of expence, 
being calculated to promote an effectual saving in time 
and labour, which he conceived from repeated experi- 
ments would be productive of great public utility ; that 
he was the first and true inventor thereof, and that the 
same had not been made or used by any other person or 
persons whatsoever to the best of his knowledge and 
belief." 

This machine had two beams or rollers similar to those in his 
former one ; but the bobbin apparatus was very different, so much so 
as to constitute an entirely new machine. 



198 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

The pinions described in the first machine as placed at the ends of 
the conical tubes, necessarily occupied a great breadth when arranged 
laterally, compared with the breadth of the piece of lace. If, for 
instance, the diameter of one pinion were one-fourth of an inch, the 
mesh of the lace being sometimes one-sixteenth of an inch, the breadth 
of the bobbin apparatus would be as four to one, to the breadth of 
the lace. This would be exceedingly inconvenient in making broad 
pieces. The great extent to which the radiation of the bobbins ex- 
panded the area of the working in that part of the former machine, 
gave it the name of the fantail, by which it was generally known. 
There would also have been far too great friction to be overcome, 
arising from giving revolving motion to so many tubes. 

This induced Mr. Heathcoat to make his bobbins so thin as that 
the whole number required should not occupy more space than the 
breadth of the piece of lace. 

This bobbin, with the carriage in which it is placed for conveyance 
to and fro and from side to side of the machine, will be easily under- 
stood by the Figure 2, Plate IX. The bobbin (wheel) contains a cer- 
tain space between its sides into which the diagonal thread is wound. 
The longitudinal threads are wound upon the lower beam, and being 
divided into two parts, each set composed of every other thread and 
kept apart on their way by passing through certain upright tubes or 
guides placed at equal distances from each other, in order to keep the 
threads laterally at equal distances. They then proceed to the upper 
beam to which they are tied. Each set of warp threads is capable 
of motion to the right and to the left. The bobbins are placed in a 
row between the two beams, so that their threads may arrange col- 
laterally with those from the lower beam. In this situation two bars 
are placed to the front and two on the back of the threads reaching 
from one side of the rows of threads to the other, and equal in length 
to the whole breadth of the lace. These bars are each divided into 
a number of grooves (combs) running at right angles to their length. 
They are so placed in back and front of the threads, as to be in the 
circumference of a circle. When the carriages containing the bobbins 
are placed in the grooves, they are not only kept at equal distances 
laterally, but they can be made to move like so many clock pendulums 
oscillating along the grooves through the longitudinal or beam threads 
by levers called shifting bars, which hang in the centre of the circle 
in the circumference of which the grooved (comb) bars are placed. 
The bars are called conducting bars. By one of the shifting bars the 
bobbins are passed half-way through the threads, and received on the 
other side by another similar bar. 

This being understood, it will easily be perceived how the twisting 
is managed. When the shifting bars have passed the bobbins which 
contain the diagonal threads through the longitudinal threads, the 
comb bar which receives them on the other side, has a lateral motion 
given to it, equal to the space between two threads. If then the 
bobbins be brought back on the contrary side of each longitudinal 
thread, each diagonal thread will have made one twist with a longi- 
tudinal thread. If now the front comb bar be moved laterally, till 
each bobbin stands opposite to the space from which it first started, 
and the threads be again passed through to the back and brought 
again to the front on the other side cf each longitudinal thread, the 
threads will have been twice twisted. 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 199 

Previously to the twistings, one-half the diagonal threads must be 
moved to the right and the other half to the left, which has the effect 
of crossing these threads, and is brought about in this machine by 
a method as entirely different to that in the former machine, as the 
process of twisting differs in the two, and is as follows : A number 
of pins equal to the number of diagonal threads are placed in a bar 
at equal distances. This bar, called a point bar, is made to move 
backwards and forwards on an axis with pivots, by which means it 
can pass freely between the threads, and be withdrawn at pleasure. 
Previous to crossing, every other bobbin is so moved as to form one 
distinct row, and thus form two distinct rows of the whole ; one row 
being a little behind the other. Then the points are made to enter 
the first row. They then receive a lateral movement, till the points 
are opposite to one division further to the left of the second row. 
The points are now advanced through the second row. The effect of 
this is, that the right side of the threads of the first row is in contact 
with the left side of each pin ; while the left side of the second row 
of threads is contiguous to the right side of each pin, and the diagonal 
threads are crossed. This has prepared them for twisting with their 
contiguous longitudinal threads. There is another set of points which 
are in every operation used to relieve the first set. The first set have 
grooves in the upper side, lengthwise into these grooves the points of 
the second set are brought and occupy the place of the first which are 
thus released, and are employed in forming the new crosses in the 
subsequent operation. In forming the crosses as above described, 
the threads are crossed above and below the points. The lower cross 
is done away, by giving a lateral movement to each of the rows of 
bobbins in contrary directions. 

In examining the specification and drawings of this 
machine, it will be observed that the number of bobbin 
threads, as well as the beam threads, are double to those 
spoken of in the above description. The difference is 
thus explained: These double rows are placed one 
behind the other. If, however, the bobbins were of 
half the thickness, they might, with the same effect, 
stand in one row. The contrivance admits of the lace 
being made twice as fine as the thickness of the bobbin 
would seem to admit. In other words, the diameter 
of the mesh of the lace will be one half of what it would 
be, if one half only of each of the sets of threads were 
employed. One of the parts of this process distinguish- 
ing it from the previous attempts of Moore, Hood, and 
others, and that which gave the firmness and durability 
so important to its productions, was the traversing the 
diagonal threads from, side to side of the net made by 
it. This, combined with the twists, prevented it from 
roving out, if one or more of the threads were broken ; 



200 THE TKAVEKSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

and though effected by the first patent, yet may be 
described more clearly under this second patent. It is 
thus : On the formation of every mesh, the diagonal 
bobbins arid carriages moving to the right hand, will of 
necessity make the end of that row one carriage too 
many, and uneven at the right hand ; and the left hand 
end one carriage too few. But the row moving to the 
left will have a reverse surplus carriage too much at one 
end, and too few at the other end of the row. By an 
ingenious contrivance, the machine makes a transfer of 
these carriages to the lacking end, back and front, and 
thus the full set is restored ; and though each bobbin 
and carriage of the entire sets changes its place every 
series of meshes in width of the machine, the diagonal 
course is unbroken from end to end of the piece. 

The following parts of Heathcoat's second patent 
machine are stated to be old. The warp beam and that 
on which the work is rolled when made, both being 
common to every weaver's loom. The wheel, brass, or 
bobbin, which, like the pirn in the weaver's shuttle, holds 
the weft thread, and which, it is said, had been used by 
Robert Brown, Whittaker, and Hood, and in a com- 
pressed form with a spring in the tape making machine 
for 100 years. The combs and comb bar in which the 
carriages holding the bobbins move or slide, and which 
are derived from the stocking-frame, and were claimed 
by Whittaker and Hood. The tube through which 
the warp threads are carried and regulated, and which 
are similar to those in warp frames. The points which 
carry up and close the work, and which are found in 
every lace frame except the warp ; and the crank bars 
on which the point bars are suspended, and without 
which no machine of any kind can be worked. In 
Morris's patent of 1781, nearly all these parts were 
employed. Renouncing, if need be, the whole of them, 
it is confidently averred that no model or actual machine, 
or combination of these or any other parts of Heathcoat's 
machine, can be shewn to have been previously put 
together, upon which bobbin net, ttvisted and traversed 
from side to side, could be or ever had been made. The 
patent of 1808 is the first in which two systems of 
threads are arranged, the one longitudinal, the other 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 201 

diagonal, the latter traversing in two directions. That 
machine was a perfect one and very quick, but only 
capable of producing one narrow breadth of net. In the 
patent of 1809, on which the net can be made of any 
width, the warp beam and points are the only parts 
which were used similarly to the former invention. It 
was certainly a remarkable instance of decision of charac- 
ter displayed by Heathcoat, when after, by three years 
labour of mind and body, he had succeeded in devising 
and bringing into operation so beautiful a machine as 
that first patented by him, he should, without hesitation, 
have thrown it altogether aside upon perceiving its con- 
fined powers, though perfect as to its product; and at 
once set himself to invent one on an entirely different 
principle, and capable of increasing the production a 
thousand fold. 

Having ascertained by what mechanical movements 
twisted and traversed bobbin net was first produced, 
so as to resemble perfectly the hexangular meshes of 
pillow net, it will be necessary to trace the course of 
the threads forming them by the aid of 'the figures on 
Plate IV., on which are shewn meshes of machine lace. 

The upper and lower crossings lie in the direction of the piece 
BO as to be at right angles to the selvage. Figure 1 will explain the 
crossing and intertwisting of the threads. It will be seen that of the 
three series, one proceeds longitudinally from above downwards ; these 
are the warp threads which are extended from a lower roller to the 
upper work beam, usually in straight perpendicular rigid lines when 
in the machine. When the net is formed and taken off the beam, 
these warp threads assume a serpentine or winding path from the 
tension or draught of the obliquely disposed weft threads, by which 
they are alternately drawn to the right and left from the interlace- 
ment. If we suppose these longitudinal threads to be inflexible wires, 
the fabric would have the appearance represented in Figure 2, which 
indeed is the shape of the net as extended on the machine while it 
is in process of fabrication. Another of the series of threads runs 
to the right, and the third to the left, both of them in oblique zigzag 
directions. These two sets thus disposed wind round the up and 
down threads, and also cross each other in the intervals betwixt the 
warp, both travelling in a like manner but in opposite directions. 
These diagonal threads taking their course to the off-side borders of 
the web, towards which they are constantly tending, each bobbin 
thread as it arrives twines itself not once only as round the other 
warp threads, but a twist and a-half, the carriage remaining on the 
outer notch of the other comb, and turns back to twist and travel 
in the other direction. This last operation forms the selvages of 
the piece. 



202 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

It is important to remark that the bobbin net ma- 
chine is, in principle as we have described it, capable 
of being modified without difficulty so as to produce 
equally with the old weaving and warp looms solid 
tissues or webs. But its high relative cost in construc- 
tion has hitherto prevented its use for this purpose. 

Thus John Heathcoat devised and accomplished the 
construction of the traversing bobbin net machine, "by 
far the most expensive and complex apparatus existing 
in the whole range of textile mechanism," and which 
remains in principle embodied in those of the present 
day, though with great improvements, some effected 
by himself, and many more by others to whom he 
was ever anxious to accord their due meed of praise, 
mentioning " John Brown, W. Morley, Braley, Levers, 
Sewell, and others, as especially worthy of notice, for 
their employment of genius and talents only second in 
their results to those by which the original machine 
was designed and executed." These modifications of 
the original machine arranged themselves under five 
systems, all of which were of English origin. 

His success was not without its commensurate cost. 
It was gained by the employment of self-directed talents 
during years of great bodily and mental toil, carried on 
without aid from the skill and experience of others. 
He was encouraged to prosecute the task only by 
determination lo succeed in overcoming difficulties in 
the progress of the work, which he found to be so great 
as to lead him to say, when describing them long 
afterwards, that "if they were to be done again, he 
should probably not attempt to overcome them." This 
is an instance of the successful application of mental 
and physical powers well directed and controlled, which 
may be advantageously pondered over by young men 
in every rank of life. At twenty-four years of age here 
stands the conscious yet modest inventor of one of the 
most intricate machines the world has ever seen. 

Strict domestic economy and personal self-denial 
were necessary, and were cheerfully exemplified during 
this long outlay of time and money an interval which 
must have called into exercise much faith and patience 
on the part of Mrs. Heathcoat. This seems to have 



THE TRAVE11SE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 203 

reached its culminating point when, as related by herself 
with gratitude in after years of prosperity, on one 
eventful Saturday her husband returned home, she 
enquired as often before, "Well, will it work?" His 
reply was "No! I have had to take it all in pieces 
again." Though kindly spoken in encouraging tones, 
yet it was with an almost painful calmness; and she 
was constrained for once to sit down and cry bitterly. 
Happily, she had confidence in his ultimate accomplish- 
ment of the task he had set himself. Her loving and 
brave heart had only to wait a few weeks more, when 
the hoped for result came, and she had the first narrow 
breadth of machine wrought traversed net placed in her 
hands by him, of whose talents and success, and the 
honourable influence to which they led, she was justly 
proud. That piece of net after being worn some years, 
was verified on oath, and an impression from it is given 
in Plate XIV., No. 14, in specimens of lace. 

The excellence of the articles which this machine 
was capable of producing, was equal to its wonderful 
construction. See Plate XIV., No. 15. "The net," 
says M. Aubry, "is the king of tissues, and is a perfect 
imitation of the pillow mesh. It therefore soon became 
exceedingly popular, and has still further developed the 
manufactures of Nottingham, so that it has now become 
the centre of one of the largest manufactories in England. 
Ure says, Dictionary of Arts, p. 730, "bobbin net sur- 
passes every other branch of industry, by the complex 
ingenuity of its machinery. A bobbin net frame is as 
much beyond the most curious chronometer, as that is 
beyond a roasting jack." 

The guage or fineness of a bobbin net machine, like 
that of a stocking-frame, which is reckoned by the 
number of needles there are in an inch in its width, is 
computed by the number of bobbins and carriages that 
pass too and fro in each inch of the combs along the 
width of the machine, and the consequent number of 
points to take up the meshes as they are formed up to 
the work roller. If there are ten carriages and combs 
and points in an inch, then it is called ten-point. There 
are as coarse as four-point, and as fine as sixteen-point. 
The net may be made stiff er or slacker on the same 



204 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

machine, and there may be therefore from ten to thirty 
holes lengthwise in an inch. The first machine made 
by Heathcoat on the principle of his second patent 
and called the ' old Loughborough', was a nine-point, 
eighteen inches (two quarters) wide. Then he constructed 
two ten-points the same width ; then one thirty inches, 
followed by one thirty-six inches (four quarters), all 
ten-points. After the first large factory was occupied 
about 1810, a six quarter was built; and the labour 
in working this three-fold width of machine was then 
considered so great, that one Simpkin, a tall powerful 
man, was selected and put into it. He could earn 5 
in three days, which was generally considered a week's 
work in this new and highly paid employment. Bobbin 
net was for some years made entirely from bleached cotton 
yarns, and Qs. 6d. a rack was paid for producing four 
quarter nine-point net. Many hands were thus earning 
during the first years of the patent from 5 to 10 
weekly. The numbers of unemployed in the existing 
lace trade were thereby gradually lessened. Yet, by 
many, these new machines were looked upon as shorten- 
ing labour, and were disliked and decried accordingly. 

While Mr. Heathcoat was engaged in perfecting and 
preparing to patent his inventions, he became known 
for his talents and pleasing manners to several respect- 
able families around him. Amongst others, to that of 
Mr. Brewin, whose friendship he much valued through 
life, and whose son, the late Mr. Ambrose Brewin, 
after an engagement for some years as manager, 
entered into partnership with Mr. Heathcoat in the 
Tiverton works. He became the husband of his 
younger daughter, and after a useful life, died much 
regretted some years before his father-in-law. About 
the year 1806, Mr. Heathcoat was favoured with the 
friendly regard of Dr. Peach, a medical gentleman 
then resident at Loughborough. To him he was in- 
debted for scientific information and encouragement 
which was then of great value to him. He also in- 
troduced him to Mr. R. Blunt, who assisted in drawing 
the patent specifications, and to Mr. Charles Staveley a 
civil engineer, who made the drawings for them from 
the machines; and which, considering their intricacy 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 205 

and the rarity of such employment at that time and 
in that district, reflect great credit on his skill as a 
draughtsman. He afterwards offered to construct the 
second machine from "the specifications and drawings 
when their accuracy was impugned. 

The pecuniary outlay which was incurred during 
the years 1807 and 1808 was beyond Mr. Heathcoat's 
means to sustain comfortably. Now that the second 
patent had to be secured, it was time for him to obtain 
other aid. A friend, Mr. Seddon, of Leicester, had 
rendered some assistance, which could not however 
be continued. Messrs. Boden, Oliver and Cartwright, 
hosiers of Loughborough, then entered into arrange- 
ments, under which he prosecuted his labours ; but 
after a time they renounced their connection with the 
business, as too hazardous an investment. About this 
time, Mr. Thomas Hallam, who had been brought up 
in the lace trade at Nottingham, when the point net 
was becoming unprofitable as a manufacture, removed 
to Loughborough, and entered into the employment 
of Mr. Heathcoat. This occurred almost immediately 
after the invention of the first patented machine. He 
found Johnson, Bailey, Harriman, and Cross already 
in his service. Upon Oliver and Boden's withdrawal, 
and at the suggestion of Hallam, who was confidentially 
consulted having a knowledge of the houses engaged 
in that trade, Mr. Heathcoat not finding Mr. Nunn 
an extensive lace manufacturer at home, called upon 
Mr. Charles Lacy, and shewed him a sample of his new 
production. Lacy was in the point net trade, and 
closely connected with Mr. James Fisher, the eminent 
lace merchant in London, to whom this sample was 
forthwith sent. Fisher suggested the article being 
made on machinery suitable for producing it in greater 
widths, which Heathcoat intimated his determination 
if possible to effect. A few days after an arrangement 
was entered into, by which Lacy was to furnish capital, 
and become an equal partner with Heathcoat in the 
profits of the business. Heathcoat was to have the 
entire management of the machinery, while Lacy should 
fit the production for the market and dispose of it 
in Nottingham. Under this partnership the machinery 



206 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

was so increased, as that, by 1816, fifty-five frames 
were at work in their factory at Loughborough. Thus 
Mr. Lacy became joint proprietor in the bobbin net 
patent. His well-known peculiar characteristics in- 
creased the dislike felt in Nottingham to the payment of 
tribute under the patent, which though not exorbitant, 
was very profitable to the patentees. Mr. Lacy unhappily 
embarked his share in mechanical experiments which 
exhausted all his gains. When that reverse occurred, 
the author was requested to apply to Mr. Heathcoat 
to head a subscription for his support. He replied, 
"Say to the gentlemen from me, that our partnership 
put between 40,000 and 50,000 clear gain into 
Mr. Lacy's pocket. If they should think, that after 
my skill and labour had done that for him without any 
expense on his part, I can be reasonably called upon 
to help him now that he has foolishly thrown it away, 
I will do so. I will act as they judge is right." The 
fact stated was considered amply sufficient, and the 
application was respectfully withdrawn. Mr. Fisher from 
that time allowed an annuity, it was said, of 200 a-year, 
to Mr. Lacy and his daughter for the rest of their lives. 
The title to the invention of a machine whose in- 
cipient capacity was so greatly in advance of previously 
known means of production of lace, and which was 
soon found capable of improvement so as to vastly 
extend its powers and results, was not likely to pass 
unquestioned, especially as the articles made upon it 
were sold at prices affording unusual profits. Accord- 
ingly a number of claimants to partake of the honour 
of the invention arose on the one hand, and Heathcoat's 
specification being at once obtained, infringers quietly 
set to work with ability and success on the other. Much 
was said and written during the existence of the patent 
impugning the claim of Heathcoat to originality of the 
invention, and he was denied by some any merit beyond 
peculiarity of construction in his machine. We have 
already seen that before 1800, twisted and traversed net 
had not been made by machinery, that by Robert 
Brown's patent it could not be made, and that Whittaker 
and Hood's efforts were ineffectual in producing this 
result. The whole body of historical evidence coincides 



THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 207 

with that forthcoming when the question as to the 
originality of the invention was put in course for legal 
decision. The opinion then given by Sir I. Brunei, 
adopted by the judge Sir V. Gibbs, and ratified by the 
verdict of the jury, is without doubt the correct one : 

" That when Heathcoat had separated one half the threads placing 
them on the beam as warp threads, and made the bobbins which 
carried the other threads to act between and around these warp 
threads, so as to produce Buckinghamshire pillow lace, the lace 
machine was invented." 

Notwithstanding the patentee's dislike to waste money, 
and time almost valuable to him then as money, in law 
an injunction was applied for in 1813, against Mr. 
William Morley, a machine builder and then in partner- 
ship with Messrs. Kendall and Allen, by Heathcoat 
for infringements of his patent, he stating himself to be 
the inventor of the bobbin net machine. Morley replied 
in substance : 

"That the machine was not Heathcoat' s invention, such machines 
worked by several persons having produced similar bobbin net long 
before ; that he had leave from Heathcoat to work them ; and that 
their machines were materially different to his. Heathcoat denied 
permission to use, and asserted that the variations were colourable 
and immaterial ; charged them with selling the goods made by other 
infringers, and required their names and an account. He says they 
refused inspection, but he had seen a top and bottom roller of a lace 
frame delivered at Kendall's house. Defendants answered that some 
of the material parts of Heathcoat's machines were taken from older 
inventions. They admitted that bobbin net can be made wider from 
all lace machines, including Heathcoat's, than by hand, but asserted 
that the latter was not an original machine. They alleged that he 
cannot supply the market with sufficient net; that they had only 
worked two machines and those for but two months, the lace from 
which was sold by John Allen, but had ceased to make or sell any 
since this application, yet insisted on their right to do both." 

They further say : 

"That Edward Whittaker, Eobert Brown, and others, were the 
inventors of the most important parts of this machine, and that their 
machines were different to the patent ones of Heathcoat's in principle, 
method, parts, and movements; and were not either counterfeits or 
imitations of his." 

They nevertheless put in a schedule of bobbin net 
made by them, viz. 324 yards, of which 252 yards were 
sold for 290. 10s. and 72 yards were on hand. After 
the hearing, the injunction sought for was granted, and 



208 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

the defendants became licensees under the patent. The 
following statements, extracted from a large mass of a 
similar tenor which was brought forwards in 1813, will 
throw further light on the points raised in this inquiry, 
and are otherwise of interest : 

"William Flint, then aged 63, had lived nearly all his life in 
Nottingham where he had been a lace manufacturer eighteen years ; 
knew the texture and mode of making Buckingham lace, and was 
acquainted with every kind of lace machinery used since he could 
remember. He invented the point net frame and sold the invention, 
which was afterwards patented. He never heard of any invention 
before Hoathcoat's by which bobbin net could be made ; had there 
been such he must have heard of it. He had tried to invent it, but 
did not succeed. Many others did so and without success." 

"Edward Morley, for thirty years a frame smith and setter up in 
Nottingham, had been ten years with Frost, an eminent mechanician 
in hosiery and lace frames of every kind. They both knew all the 
meshes already produced by machinery, having been employed in 
devising and constructing them. Many had tried to construct a twist 
and traverse lace machine, but none had succeeded before Heathcoat. 
He must have known it if there had been. The patented invention 
was soon heard of, and only credited when the lace produced by it 
was seen on account of previous failures. The specification was 
brought and many went on to construct them." 

This Mr. Edward Morley became from his universal 
knowledge of the construction and value of hosiery and 
lace frames, the auctioneer or salesman through whose 
hands nearly all Nottinghamshire machinery that was 
sold for many years passed in order to be disposed of. 
It was from his books chiefly, that the author compiled 
his published account of such sales made during the 
preceding fourteen years to 1833 As to Robert Brown's 
machine Mr. John Farey, C.E., declared : 

"That it could not by any modification be made to produce 
traversed and twisted net ; nor could Heathcoat's produce fishing net ; 
neither machine could be made to perform the functions of the other." 

John Brown had, by a patent he had taken out in 
1811 for a bobbin net machine, which was called from 
its contradistinguishing arrangement the traverse warp, 
Heathcoat's being a traversing bobbin machine, led the 
way to infringements. The construction and working 
of that class of machinery under Brown's patent gave 
apparently legal sanction to such parties ; therefore 
Heathcoat in 1813 applied for an injunction also against 
him and his partners for infringement, by making and 



Jot* VIII. 



FRONT VIEW OF JOHN BF 




THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 209 

working bobbin net frames at Warwick. In opposing 
this, Messrs. Nunn, Brown and Freeman, say : 

" They had invented and worked their machine before Heathcoat's 
patent. The machines do not interfere but differ materially. Their' 8 
is also patented. They admit Heathcoat's lace resembles foreign, and 
made at less expence and greater advantage than by any former 
method, and that he may have been the true inventor of his machine. 
That he could not supply the market sufficiently, and that their sales 
equalled his. That Brown, who'had been in the lace trade ten years, 
found out his principle in 1807, and says that he communicated it to 
Freeman who lived with him, the same month, upon which they 
proceeded to make experiments, and at length a model and lace net ; 
the latter in June, 1808. They became partners, and, wanting capital, 
Nunn joined them, and they got their patent in March, 1810 ; having 
only heard of Heathcoat's at the previous Christmas. By examining 
carefully his specification they found the plans to differ materially, 
and the Solicitor General decided on granting the patent. Until then 
they say they had known nothing of Heathcoat's method or principle, 
nor seen Heathcoat, his caveat, specifications, or plans. Brown was 
the inventor of the machine patented by him, which they assert is 
not a counterfeit or imitation of Heathcoat's, almost every movement 
and the whole apparatus differing from his. Finally, that he has all 
along known of their making lace, of which he had assisted with them 
to adjust prices, upon which subject they put in a letter from him. 
And they conclude by stating that Bailey said Mr. Heathcoat and he 
had examined the specifications of Brown, and found them to be on 
different principles and no infringement of Heathcoat's patent." 

The last statement Mr. Heathcoat point blank denied. 

An inspection of machines was refused, as also the 
injunction, the Chancellor not having a caveat from 
Heathcoat before him, and he ordered a trial on a writ 
issued from the King's Bench. Models were prepared, 
that of the 'Old Loughborough' patent machine was made 
by Mr. John Gimson, and the damages were laid at 
50,000. But a surprising and untoward discovery 
occurred, which caused the record to be withdrawn, 
and not only put a stop to this action, but to every other 
legal proceeding by Mr. Heathcoat to protect himself 
from infringements, until the validity of his patent had 
been indirectly established, by the dictum of the judge 
and verdict of the jury in the action Bovill v. Moore, 
tried in 1816. 

The circumstances were these. Mr. Millington was 
working a model of Heathcoat's frame, movement by 
movement as the specification was read, when it was 
made apparent that there was a difference between the 



210 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

draft and engrossed specification, arising from the 
omission in the latter of a whole line describing five 
movements of the carriages which, being a repetition of 
the line preceding, had evidently been considered by 
the copyist as a mistaken repetition, and had been 
dashed through and left out in the engrossment. To 
make it sense, the word bring had been inserted instead 
of put. In confirmation of the practical sufficiency of 
the specification, notwithstanding these errors and shew- 
ing the mistake of those who said the machine was too 
intricate to be worked (which indeed the number and 
success of a multitude of mfringers effectually disproved), 
a common workman having had the texture of the lace 
explained to him, made a model from the specification 
and drawings, on which he placed threads and made 
net. Being illiterate, he did not take the trouble to 
read the latter part of the directions, but worked on 
unconsciously supplying the gap. 

This deficiency, though not necessarily fatal in equity 
or even probably so, Serjeant Copley (Lord Lyndhurst), 
thought might be taken as a valid objection at common 
law, and advised that further proceedings against in- 
fringers should be postponed. 

On this occasion Mr. Sylvester, C.E., described the 
essential parts of both Heathcoat and J. Brown's patents 
to be identical. Mr. Nicholson, C.E., declared them to be 
so alike that if the essential part of Heathcoat's were 
withdrawn, the traverse warp could not be worked at all. 
And in this, Mr. Farey, C.E., entirely coincided. In his 
affidavit, John Millward, of Olney, Bucks, (aged sixty- 
five, and forty years in the pillow lace trade) said, "he 
never heard of machine bobbin net till that of Heath- 
coat's, nor saw a machine till a day or two before, when 
Whittington, Brunell and Donkin, each worked on the 
model. They came to a stop though working to the 
patent (specification). He saw they were wrong and 
what they had to do, and told them how the threads 
were further to be disposed of so as to make the lace." 
This 'stop' was the result of the deficiency above 
described. 

Mr. John Bailey gave, in 1813, the following descrip- 
tion and remarks upon the essential parts of Heathcoat's, 



Plate IX. 



NT /I MACHINE. 

d A. Carriage B . 

C. CaJdies D . Hoboin 




R. SHOWN 5 

. SinJter 
B. 

C. Pivot 

D . Spring 

E. Slide 

F. Notch 



A. Carriage B . Spring 

('. J) rawing Hooks D . HoJeJvr Thirtuf . 




G. Carriage kBobb/n^ 
f. Lockers 



K. C 




THE TEAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 211 

as compared with those of the machine patented by 
Messrs. Nunn, Brown and Freeman. It is very terse 
and lucid, giving a high idea of the talent of this 
artizan : 

"In it an arrangement is made to place and work together forty 
to sixty threads in the space of one inch, b^ putting half the threads 
on a beam roller, and half individually on bobbins; and so as to pass 
through the beam threads first on one side and then repass on the 
other, and so twisting round each other. The roller threads run 
longitudinally, the bobbin threads diagonally. John Brown's patent 
merely reverses this arrangement the longitudinal threads are on bobbins, 
the diagonal are from the roller. 

"The bobbins are put into two rows to give twice the thickness 
to each bobbin, one row moves behind the other ; in Brown's, one row 
is placed and moves over the other. 

"The operation of twisting takes place upon one half the threads 
instead of the whole, and requires that the roller beam be placed 
farther from where the threads unite to form the lace, than the bobbins 
containing the other half of the threads ; which last named bobbins 
require to be passed and repassed between the beam threads, which 
are held at equal distances for that purpose. Brown's arrangements 
are in all these points the same. 

"The bobbins need to be guided through the threads by combs 
corresponding with the distances between the threads. These combs 
are placed in bars which are capable of a shogging (side) motion, 
removing the whole row of bobbins from opposite one set of spaces 
to opposite the next spaces, one remove to the right or left as the case 
may be. Brown has comb bars and performs the same movements as 
Heathcoaf s. 

"In order to these movements, it is necessary that the bobbins 
should be peculiarly constructed ; so thin as that the requisite number 
when put into their carriages should be worked in a given space; 
should pass and repass the beam threads by being operated on by a 
shifting bar passing them half way through the threads, and another 
receiving them on the other side not catching the beam threads, and 
giving off thread with a proper tension. Brown's are exactly similar. 

" To prevent more thread being given off the bobbins in passing 
backwards and forwards through the threads, than is taken up by the 
twist, the combs are arranged on the circumference of a circle, and 
the shifting or locking bars move on an axis on the like circle, of 
which the centre is where the work is made. Brown has copied these 
parts and to attain the same object. 

" The twisting operation forms the sides; to finish the mesh, the 
diagonally working threads in Heathcoat's are made to cross ; in 
Brown's the longitudinal threads cross. 

" To secure the crossing, carry home the twist, and draw a quantity 
of thread from the respective sources equal to the quantity used in 
forming the last row of meshes, a row of points enters the threads, 
and the cross is carried out of the way of twisting ; an upper row of 
points then carries the cross up to the work, close enough to make the 
meshes of the proper size ; and the last row of points bears up the 

P2 



212 THE TKAVEKSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

meshes to a certain point as they are made, and at the same time 
draw from their various sources a sufficient amount of thread for the 
next course or row, and a work beam receives the net as fast as it is 
formed. In all these particulars Brown's arrangements are the same, only 
reversed, working downwards instead of upwards." 

The Mr. John Wallis, jun., before spoken of in 
connection with Whittaker's and Hood's frames, having 
a perfect knowledge of the bobbin net machinery and 
manufacture from its commencement, and being the 
acting partner and manager in the firm of Paget and 
Wallis, extensive makers of bobbin net lace for many 
years, the author requested his unbiassed opinion in the 
conversation of 1846, as to whom the merit of the 
invention patented by Heathcoat in 1809, really be- 
longed. He had no doubt on that point himself; but 
desired to give the readers of such a work as that on 
which he is now engaged all the satisfaction possible. 
In reply Mr. Wallis stated it to be his opinion : 

"That the bobbin net machine was the invention of Mr. Heath- 
coat ; and that its diversified and intricate movements and combinations 
are exceedingly ingenious, and claim for him all the credit that can 
be given. Whatever parts others might have contrived, or schemes 
they might have formed, he put the machinery together, and so com- 
bined it as to produce traversed bobbin net, which without doubt 
nobody else had done." 

Mr. Wallis went on to refer specially 

" To the division of threads into warp and bobbin, to the separation 
of the bobbin threads into two parts, and the mode of causing these 
sets to travel opposite ways, the introduction of the shogging (side) 
movement, and the exact application of the four-point bars, together 
with the working of the bobbins and carriages in combs adjusted 
in parts of the segment of a circle of which the finished web is the 
centre," &c. 

He concluded his remarks thus : 

" Possibly by his claiming the bobbin, his patent might have been 
overthrown ; yet, nevertheless, he would still have been the true in- 
ventor of this machine. Nobody had constructed a bobbin traverse net 
machine before him ; and it is not certain any one else might. For 
as to Brown and Freeman's ' traverse warp' machine, I do not think 
for a moment it was other than an inverted copy of Heathcoat's." 

After a thorough examination of every other net 
making machine then known, and of the bobbin net 
machine patented by Ilcathcoat, and called the 'Old 
Loughborough,' Sir J. Brunell publicly stated in 1815 : 



THE TKAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 213 

"That the latter appeared to him one of the most complete 
mechanical combinations, and in which its author displayed uncommon 
powers of invention. Therefore he could not withhold the tribute 
due to him for originality and ingenuity in all the various parts he 
had brought into action, to accomplish a texture which had been 
attempted before, but, to his knowledge, without success." 

A diligent examination of a surprisingly voluminous 
mass of papers, briefs, and evidence given on oath and 
otherwise, on all sides of the litigation to which Heath- 
coat's and John Brown's patents gave rise, has been 
made by the author. Lindley and Whittaker must 
have awarded to them their due for their bobbin ; 
Robert Brown for his sinker and bobbin, and Charles 
Hood for his ability in employing these instruments, so 
far as he did use them, in approaching success more 
nearly than any of his predecessors. It may be pre- 
sumed also that Mr. Heathcoat might and almost of 
necessity must have had his mind directed in some 
degree by the attempts of others. Before he had com- 
pleted his own machinery, he had not however seen 
either Brown, Whittaker, or Hood's machinery. Most of 
the instruments he used were known before, but used 
for other combinations or for other purposes. Some had 
been employed in unsuccessful efforts to do that in 
which he succeeded. In the hands of his competitors 
they had proved practically useless as to the solution of 
the intricate problem. Whatever these might be, Mr. 
Heathcoat relegated the necessary parts into their 
appropriate position, giving them form and motion by 
his mechanical skill, with those additions which he 
found necessary to the attainment of the end he had in 
view. Thus we also are brought to the conclusion that 
he was not only the first to construct, of which no one 
has now any doubts, but claims of right the singular 
merit of having invented the twisting and traversing 
bobbin net machine. 

It may be mentioned here, that in 1813, Mr. Heath- 
coat, still of Loughborough, took out an additional 
patent, No. 3673, for improvements in his machine for 
making bobbin net, or lace nearly resembling foreign 
lace: 

These consisted of substitution of iron for wood where the latter 
material had been used. Also improved guides and ' turn again' were 



214 THE TRAVERSE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

introduced so that these brasses were not moved by hand. Straps were 
put instead of pulleys to give movements. The selvages were held 
out by roller pins or points, called spur wheels, instead of a stretcher 
pointed at each end ; with other simplifications of the interior working 
parts of the machine. Also he now added to his machines the 
apparatus whereby the narrow breadths called quillings were made. 
The traversing bobbin threads were caused to turn again at intervals 
in the work equal to the desired width of the strip of net. A lacing 
thread put in while the work was going on kept the adjoining breadths 
united ; these were afterwards drawn out when the piece was dressed, 
leaving a sound selvage on each side of the breadths, but not so perfect 
as the quillings made on the traverse warp machine. 

The price paid for making five-quarters net was 
3s. Qd. a rack, in 1834 it was Id. A twenty-four rack 
piece sold in 1814 for 17, it was worth 7s. in 1834. 

In 1813 Jeremiah Bryant, of Nottingham, improved 
the catch bars in the * Old Loughborough' machine by 
using notched wheels instead of working them by hand, 
and devised a better mode of 'hogging' the twist. By 
these means the speed was increased. 

The same year the movements of this frame were 
still further lessened by the combined ingenuity of 
William Braley, William Henson and Thomas Brookes. 
The machine as modified by them was long used. 
Henson removed soon after to Worcester. 

Greenwood, a workman, so arranged the ' Old Lough- 
borough' double tier of Heathcoat in 1815 as to reduce 
the motions necessary to produce the net from thirteen 
to six, and by so much increased the speed. This was 
effected by a peculiar kind of vibratory movements, but 
their mode of operation was so complex and delicate 
that only about ten of these frames were ever con- 
structed. 

These were the most successful of the many in- 
genious modifications of the machine patented by Heath- 
coat, made at that time, when every step that issued 
in reducing its complexity and increasing its speed, 
whether worked under license or through infringement, 
was attended by profits of an unusual amount. 



( 215 ) 



CHAPTER XV. 



THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 

THE importance of the litigation initiated by Nunn, 
Brown, and Freeman, through obtaining an injunc- 
tion against Moore, Longmire, and Noble, and issuing 
on the order of Lord Eld on, in a trial of the validity 
of John Brown's traverse warp patent in 1816, was 
very great, whether in reference to the interests of 
the litigants, or those of Heathcoat, and the arrange- 
ments, position, and progress of the trade at large, 
when influenced by the establishment of the paramount 
rights of the original patentee. The excitement felt 
upon the occasion was naturally very great; and 
commensurate efforts were put forth on all sides. The 
amount of evidence given, and much more that was 
prepared, added to facts from other sources, enable us 
to trace out the history of the traverse warp invention. 

Mr. Nunn, one of the plaintiffs, was a lace manu- 
facturer and a man of property at Nottingham. Finding 
that the value of Heathcoat' s invention was great, he 
offered a reward to any artificer who could construct 
a machine to make bobbin net lace. He spent a good 
deal of money in employing Whittaker, Elliott, Row- 
land, Hill, and others, in trying to do so. Nunn had 
a copy of Heathcoat's specification, and put it into 
the hands of the persons he so employed. He at 
length met with John Brown, who had been attempting 
the task with Freeman. The aid of James Sneath, 
a frame-smith, was called in, when Brown and Freeman 
met with obstacles they knew not how to overcome, 
and, as Sneath always averred, by his assistance it 
was completed in 1810-11. 

The steps by which this was accomplished, as stated 
by credible and competent persons, were as follows : 



216 THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 

Whittaker was shewn Heathcoat's specifications by 
one Cockin, a workman, in 1810, and was taken by 
him to Nunn. With Bailey he went to see one Hill's 
machinery, for the purpose of trying to get from 
Bailey particulars relating to Mr. Heathcoat's machinery. 
At Nunn's request, Whittaker entered into his service 
for 305., or thereabouts, weekly, in order to make a 
twist-frame, and worked in the parlour of one Young ; 
Rowland working in the top shop. Glazeby in the 
middle shop, Elliott at home, Hill at Nunn's house, 
and all were employed by Nunn ; Glazeby's brother, 
a working smith, in Heathcoat's service, often coming 
to help them. Edward Morley shewed one Young 
how the bobbin net mesh is made by using a fox and 
goose board. Whittaker averred that Brown and Free- 
man had taken Heathcoat's plan for their ground work, 
but altered it to avoid his patent. They came, he 
said, to his house every night, for many weeks, in order 
to know what he had learnt of Heathcoat's machinery. 

John Holmes lived at Birch Row, near Radford, 
about 1810, and Robert Harvey with him. Brown 
and Freeman soon came to live at the next door. 
Before September, 1810, Holmes often talked with 
Brown, who said he was trying to make a bobbin net 
machine, he and Freeman having each sold a point- 
net frame, and Brown his furniture for money, with 
which to make experiments, but they could not succeed. 
In September, he said he had begun to try again. 
Afterwards he stated he had got bobbin net on the 
machine, and shewed him some about two inches wide 
and five inches long, and about five meshes to an inch 
in quality. It was made of different coloured threads, 
by which their direction was indicated. Brown had 
often spoken of the plan of Heathcoat's machine, now 
saying he believed he was near it, as he had before 
tried with twenty- two threads to the inch in width, 
but had got rid of half the bobbins and made net of 
the same fineness as before. He then asked Harvey to 
join him, but he declined, fearing their want of success 
and the loss of his money. Brown said, Loughborough 
lace was good but too thick and heavy, and he had 
improved upon it, making the ground thinner and with 



THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 217 

better selvages. Holmes saw his bobbins. Brown having 
joined Nunn in November, 1810, their acquaintance 
declined ; and as each left their dwellings at New 
Eadford in March, 1811, it ceased altogether. Between 
June and November, 1810, Brown was often absent, 
but Holmes did not know where. 

Abraham Trivett had been, in 1813, seventeen years 
a lace manufacturer at Nottingham, seven years of 
which he was in warp goods and machinery, and is 
described as a " clever neat man." In 1810 he worked 
lace for Mr. Hayne, and talked with Lindley, his 
manager, about Heathcoat's patent net. Trivett and 
another tried to make it, but Hayne and Lindley said 
it would be an infringement, and had better not be 
meddled with. Trivett had known James Sneath. for 
six years in 1810, as he had made several warp machines 
for him. About Christmas that year, he heard Sneath 
was trying at something with Brown and Freeman, 
and was told afterwards it was the traverse warp which 
they before long patented. 

Mr. Stephen Moore states, that he remembers John 
Brown living near his father's house at New Radford 
in 1810, and shewing his father out of a window a 
wooden model of machinery of some kind, as something 
of importance. This Mr. Moore, sen., was the inventor 
of the traverse warp frame of the defendants. John 
Bailey had conversations with Nunn, Brown, and Free- 
man, by Heathcoat's knowledge and permission, about 
their machinery. Brown told Bailey that the bobbin 
in their machine had only one spring, and only three 
motions for twisting ; also expressed wonder how 
Heathcoat could make such fine net from such coarse 
guages. This was in October, 1810, when Nunn also 
went over to Loughborough, and through Chapman, a 
draper, got an interview with Bailey, who was taken 
by him to Nottingham in a chaise, arriving there at 
midnight. On the way, Nunn showed Bailey a 
bobbin, which he at once recognized, and* told him it 
was made at Mr. Heathcoat's factory. This Nunn 
denied. He pressed Bailey to enter his employ and 
make a machine ; this Bailey declined, while in the 
service of Heathcoat and Lacy. Nunn alleged that 



218 THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 

Lacy had defrauded him lately of 500 or 600, and 
trembled for any fortune connected with Lacy. Bailey 
pointed out to Nunn that the machinery shewn to him 
by Nunn, being intended to use only warp, could not 
produce traversed or sound net. This the drawings 
and specifications of Heathcoat, then in Nunn's hand, 
shewed his did. Upon which Nunn said that he feared 
the men were deceiving him. After an interview by 
Nunn with Brown and Freeman in another room, he 
told Bailey he had engaged with them to construct 
for him thirty machines to make bobbin net, ten of 
which were to be ready by Christmas. Nunn left for 
Bailey 2 in Chapman's hands to pay the expense of 
the journey. 

James Hooley, hosier for forty- three years (1813) in 
Nottingham, had dealt in Morris's patent lace and every 
other braid made in Nottingham, and had frequent 
calls by inventors with improvements. He had never 
heard of machine bobbin net till he saw Heathcoat's, 
and was at once struck with its excellence. About 
two years after Heathcoat's patent, Nunn called on him 
and showed some new lace ; he at once saw that it was 
an infringement and told him so. Nunn replied, he 
could make it from a different machine to Heathcoat's. 

Blackner, writing in 1816, just after the question 
was settled, says 

' ' The merit of the invention by John Brown was in applying 
circulating planetary instruments and movements, enabling the warp 
threads to traverse diagonally in breadths with perfect selvages. 
Had he confined his claim to this, he would have gained the profit as 
well as credit of his ingenuity. The great obstacle of traversing from 
side to side had been overcome by Heathcoat already, to whom was 
principally owing the manufacture of bobbin net by machinery." 

It is now time to describe the traverse warp machine, 
and the suits which followed thereon : 

The patent, No. 3434, taken out April, 1811, in 
the name of John Brown, of New Radford, near Notting- 
ham, lace net manufacturer, is entitled "A machine or 
machines for the manufacture of bobbin lace or twist 
net, similar to and resembling the Buckinghamshire lace 
net and French lace net, as made by the hand with 
bobbins on pillows." 

From the peculiarity in its construction, by which 



THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 219 

it was contradistinguished from that of Heathcoat, 
taken out and specified about twenty months before, 
it became known as the " traverse warp" machine. 
A description of the points of similarity to, and diver- 
gence from, Heathcoat's patented invention given in 
a former page, will suffice to enable the competent 
machinist to enter with ease into the following analysis 
of John Brown's specification, and the special questions 
raised by the long and expensive course of litigation to 
which these patents gave rise. The rights of invention 
claimed by each will necessarily, after such a number 
of clever heads had been at work upon their investiga- 
tion as we have enumerated, bring forward and decide 
the question of an origin common to them both. It 
will be enough to say here, that while Heathcoat by 
his clear apprehension of the thing to be accomplished 
and judicious choice of the instruments whereby it was 
effected, shewed the highest inventive skill, his op- 
ponent in the points and mode of divergence from his 
forerunner, exhibited an amount of constructive genius, 
upon which Mr. Heathcoat long afterwards bestowed the 
warmest praise. John Brown, by his specification, 
describes every part of his machine, renouncing nothing 
as having been used before. Whether Heathcoat were 
an original inventor or not, yet, up to the points of 
divergence, he had clear priority over John Brown. 
By the latter claiming all, he lost what he would other- 
wise have been justly entitled to a patent for the 
method of construction, so far as it was new, in any 
part of his machines, i. e. for traversing the warp threads 
instead of the bobbin, and producing perfect selvaged 
narrow breadths of lace. 

Brown's machine has two beams, one on which the threads are 
wound, and the other to receive the lace. One half the threads 
employed are first wound on one beam and inserted into the other, 
the threads being parallel. The other half are contained in bobbins 
which are placed in carriages, and work in the circumference of a circle 
between the beams, the loose ends of these threads being inserted into 
the beam in which the others are inserted, and which is ultimately 
to receive the lace. The carriages are kept at equal distances by 
being placed between combs or teeth answering to Heathcoat's comb 
bar, and held fast during their motion by a bar pressing upon the 
carriages, called a ' locking bar', answering to Heathcoat's shifting bar. 
The crossing is performed by means of pins pushing one half the 



220 THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 

diagonal threads to the right, and the other half to the left, forming 
two crosses, one of which is returned and used for the work. The 
other cross is done away by one half the diagonal threads moving 
to the right hand, and the other half to the left, changing the 
character of two bobbins every time they turn round the selvage. 
The crosses and twist are carried home to the edge of the plate by 
a swinging set of pins, and two sets of these act alternately. 

Brown's beam on which the threads are wound is above, that 
containing the lace below ; the bobbins, therefore, work in an inverted 
position between them. Brown works his lace carrying his cross and 
twist downwards. Heathcoat works just in the contrary order. The 
longitudinal threads in Brown's machine are those coming from the 
bobbins, those from the beam being diagonal threads. 

These beam threads require that one half of them should traverse 
to the right, and the other half to the left, for the purpose of doing 
away one of the two crosses which is formed previously to twisting. 
This is effected by placing the beam in a frame like that which 
contains the roller of a castor in common table feet. The beam has 
thus two motions, one on its axis to wind up and let off the threads, 
and another upon an axis perpendicular to the other axis, by which 
the beam revolves in a plane parallel to its horizontal axis, the ends 
of the axis describing a circle of which it is the diameter. This beam 
is recommended by Brown to be of length equal to half the breadth 
of the lace to be formed. A little below this beam is a circular plate 
of brass fastened to the same frame which holds the beam, and turns 
with it upon the perpendicular axis on which the frame and beam 
turn together. The diameter of this plate is equal to the length of 
the beam. A circle near to the extreme edge of the plate is divided 
into a number of equal parts equal to half the number of threads, 
and then another circle immediately within this is divided into the 
same number, but so that each of the latter may be exactly between 
two divisions of the former. Small holes are perforated at all the 
divisions. These holes have to receive the threads from the beam 
above. The threads are wound on the beam in two layers, those in 
one layer passing through the holes in one half of the circumference 
of the plate, and those of the other layer through the other half. 
After the threads have descended a certain degree below the plates 
diverging as they proceed, they become of the intended width of 
the lace ; at this distance the threads are received by a set of fixed 
points or pins, called 'dividers'; they serve to keep the threads at 
equal distances, and to prevent their diverging below this line. 

Where the threads first pass through the plate they form a 
complete circle, the extreme threads in the right and left of the circle 
have simply a lateral divergence ; those in the back and front at the 
greatest distance from the latter, will converge till they meet under 
the centre of the plate, while all the rest will take a compounded 
direction, meeting ultimately in a straight line determined by the face 
of the bar which contains the dividers. 

The first threads which come from half of the circle will occupy 
the space between every other divider, while those in the back part 
of the circular plate will occupy the other vacant spaces. If the front 
half of the threads from the left hand were numbered 1, 3, 5, 7, &c. 
spaces of dividers ; the back numbered in the same way would occupy 
2, 4, 6, 8, &c. spaces of dividers. 



THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 221 

It will be obvious that if the threads were detached from the 
dividers, and if free to move, the revolving motion of the circular 
plate would have the effect of causing one half of the threads to move 
to the right hand and the other to the left. This complicated ap- 
paratus is employed to do away the extra cross, instead of performing it 
by the lateral motion of the comb-bars. (It is much easier performed 
when the diagonal threads are contained in the bobbins, as Heathcoat's 
are, though there might be many contrivances to effect it without 
essentially altering the machine. A mere variation like this, in 
effecting this object, could by no means constitute an original machine, 
as endeavoured to be shewn by Brown's engineers, who spoke much 
of the planetary motion herein employed). 

The diagonal threads being in one line, except while crossing, it is 
necessary to divide the threads into two rows before they can be 
moved in contrary directions. To effect this separation he employs 
two sets of pins forked at the ends to send out the threads from the 
dividers. One set of forks are longer and push out the threads which 
have to move to the right ; the others are shorter, which have to push 
out those threads that move to the left. When two sets are thus 
formed one set is moved one division to the right, and another to the 
left, reciprocally changing the places of the threads. In this state 
they are allowed to fall into the dividers. The change will be effected 
of 1, 3, 5, &c., to occupy 2, 4, 6, &c., of divisions and vice versd. Each 
pair of threads will now be crossed above and below each divider. 
Points are then raised to take down the lower cross. The upper cross 
has to be removed by the motion of the circular plate ; each thread 
in the back half of the circle moving to the left, and those in the front 
half to the right, till the cross be removed. 

Thus it will be seen that Brown's process of crossing does not differ 
materially from Heathcoat's. It has the same effect of forming two 
crosses, and has an extra motion in previous separation of threads. 

The carriages are kept at equal distances by being placed in similar 
grooved bars ; but where Heathcoat moves his bobbins in carriages 
along the grooves, Brown's combs move along with the bobbins. The 
pins employed in forcing up the cross act precisely alike in both. 
Heathcoat's crosses and takes up by two sets of pins. Brown also 
uses two sets for each. 

It would perhaps be unlikely for any two other 
machines to be so different in appearance, yet so similar 
in construction and operation. A similarity of opera- 
tion was admitted by Brown, but he denied similarity 
of construction. To this the following reply was made : 
" The bobbins in both move on pivots, and are held in 
place by springs. The carriages in each move in 
grooves or combs in the circumference of a circle by 
bars. The points act by lateral motion, forcing half 
the diagonal threads to the right, the other half to the 
left for crossing the threads in Heathcoat's, as do 
Brown's forks. Heathcoat's and Brown's points each 



222 THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 

have a double motion to bring cross and twist to the 
work beam." 

We now arrive at the case of Bovill v. Moore, in 
which the claim that was made to sustain the right 
of Brown and Freeman to the exclusive use of the 
machine they had constructed, was tried before Chief 
Justice Gibbs, on March 1st, 1816. 

The Solicitor General for the plaintiffs rested his claim on this 
argument briefly stated: "It is not necessary that every constituent 
part of a machine should be new, nor that any one part taken by itself 
should be new. It is sufficient if the combination be new, and applied 
for a purpose to which they had never been applied before. Almost 
all machines are composed of old parts ; the beam, lever, roller, &c. 
are all old and well known ; but if the combination be new and useful 
also, that will be sufficient : for the machine is composed of its 
different parts. 

"In addition to 'point net' and 'warp net,' another machine 
(Heathcoat's) had been invented before this, with the view of making 
this sort of lace (traversed twist net), but Brown's machine was not 
similar to that in the combination of its parts, its productions, or the 
mode in which they are obtained. My case is not that this is a mere 
improvement on Heathcoat's machine, for if a man takes out a patent, 
and I, using that as a substratum only, invent a part, I should take 
out a patent only for the improvement I make. But however I may 
have had another machine before me, and though lace may have been 
produced by it, yet if my machine by a different combination of parts 
form together one new whole, then I do right to take my patent for 
a machine ; for qua machine, it is a new one. I say this is a new 
machine ; a new combination of parts producing a machine essentially 
different from any that has been produced before, though the effect 
of the former and the object of the present are the same; i.e. .to 
produce lace on the same principle as a woman who works by hand 
producing lace. If the defendants can prove that mine is an imitation 
of their's that will avail them ; but it is a new combination of parts 
effectually constituting a new machine." The Solicitor General also 
pointedly remarked: "It is most extraordinary that Heathcoat's 
patent was taken out in 1809 and John Brown's in 1811, that if the 
former deemed the latter an infringement he had never thought fit to 
bring any action in a Court of Justice on account of it." 

With the reason for this reticence on the part of 
Heathcoat, the reader is already acquainted. At the 
time it was not known much beyond his advisers, 
legal and otherwise ; nor was it politic or necessary to 
explain it upon this occasion. 

Serjeant Copley, for defendants, thus stated, in brief, their case : 
"A new combination of old machinery may be the subject of a patent ; 
but when one takes out such a patent he should call it ' a new com- 
bination of old machinery,' or 'an improvement of former machinery.' 



THE TEAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 223 

High authority has decided that, the Act requiring the specification, 
when he specifies to what his patent goes, he must describe what is 
old and what is new. If he takes to himself every part by the terms 
of his specification, then there is no individual who could take any 
part of it, and the public has a right to know what he claims and 
what he does not. Now Brown describes all the simple parts of his 
machine and all its combinations, and thus appropriates to himself 
more than he is entitled to ; this patent therefore cannot be sustained. 
The primary parts into which his machine may be ultimately resolved 
will be shewn to be old ; and that the complete combination of it is 
old. There are parts of this machine which, if taken away, it would 
not work ; and which parts are in themselves machines, and are now 
subjects of patents. These the plaintiff has incorporated in his patent 
without describing them as old, and as such he appropriates them to 
himself. The only point of originality in his patent consists in his 
making the beam threads traverse instead of making the bobbin 
threads traverse. In other respects it is similar to those used in 
Nottingham for a considerable time past." 

The learned Serjeant had thoroughly studied both 
the machines, and made net on Heathcoat's, so that he 
was enabled to work the models on the table, explaining 
the various parts and precise nature of the invention 
with such clearness, as to astonish alike judge and 
counsel, jury and spectators. His masterly handling 
of the case was much and most favourably remarked 
upon at the time, and had, it was said, an important 
bearing on his subsequent professional career. 

Chief Justice Gibbs concluded his summing up of the evidence 
thus : " If a conformation of those parts existed before, or if a com- 
bination of a certain number of those parts existed up to a given 
point before, and Brown's invention springs from that point and adds 
other combinations to it, then his specification stating the whole 
machine as his invention is bad. But if you think he has the merit 
of inventing the combination of all the parts from the beginning, 
I think his specification is good, and that he is entitled to your 
verdict." 

The jury immediately pronounced a verdict for the defendants. 

The Chief Justice : " Do you find the combination of the parts up 
to the crossing of the threads is not new?" The Foreman: "Yes, 
my lord." A Juryman: " The threads then taking a new direction; 
and certainly the most valuable part to the plaintiff is a new invention ; 
but it is nothing more than an improvement." 

A new trial being moved for before Lord Chief 
Justice Gibbs, Dallas, and Parke, (Abbott not present), 
it was unanimously refused on the ground that "a patent 
must not be more extensive than the invention. If the 
invention consisted of an addition or improvement only, 
a patent for the whole machine was void." 



224 THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 

Tins conclusion of the conflict between the infringers 
themselves gave as its necessary consequence a legalized 
firm ground to sustain the original patentee in claiming 
his rights. Amongst those who submitted to them, 
were the plaintiffs and defendants in the late action. 

It is interesting to know in what way Heathcoat 
viewed John Brown's traverse warp machine, and its 
position in regard to his own patented invention. His 
words are these : 

"John Brown arranged his traverse warp and took out a patent 
for it as for an entirely new invention ; not, as it really was, in the then 
state of knowledge as to the principle of my machine, & great improvement, 
enabling very narrow breadths to be made, though slowly, of excellent 
texture, indeed perhaps superior to any other. Soon after this Benjamin 
Moore constructed his traverse warp, and being sued as an infringer 
by Brown, two trials took place. Moore's reply in substance was, 
that Brown's machine was not new ; and that if there were any in- 
fringement, it was by both Brown and Moore of my patent." 

This statement of the matter is the correct one. As 
a machine for making plain net breadthjs, the traverse 
warp was unrivalled. When quillings went out of 
fashion, notwithstanding a simple and effective applica- 
tion of Jacquard apparatus to these frames, they have 
succumbed to the levers and have almost disappeared. 
We hope one of them may make its way to the 
Kensington Museum before the remainder are broken 
up. It is certainly a most interesting machine as a 
study. Thus Mr. Babbage designated it to the author 
after a two hours' close examination in 1833. It was 
a marvellous instance of constructive genius. Within 
two years of Heathcoat's specification reaching Notting- 
ham, this surprising travesty of it made its appearance ; 
and within two years more, from an independent quarter, 
a second machine having all its special character and 
attaining a similar end was brought out. There must 
have been an astonishing aptitude for overcoming me- 
chanical difficulties at that epoch in the district whence 
these feats of skill emanated. Setting aside all con- 
siderations of plagiarism and infringement, this tribute 
of admiration is due to the talent which dared to attempt 
and actually succeeded in causing the warp to traverse 
instead of the bobbin. A plate (No. VIII.) is given to 
assist in perpetuating the knowledge of this machine. 



THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 225 

The defendant Benjamin Moore's machine was con- 
structed, in conjunction with Longmire and Noble, 
in 1812, at New Eadford, tinder circumstances of 
difficulty that would have dismayed most men. Thus 
much there is no doubt of, for though carried on almost 
upon the same spot where Brown's was commenced, it 
does not seem that there was any intercommunication 
between the parties, and it is not certain that Moore's 
was a copy of Brown's. On the contrary Moore's 
family declare it was an independent construction. 
There is not one of Moore's remaining to test the fact : 
but no doubt both had seen Heathcoat's plan and worked 
from a common source to a like end. Unquestionably 
the trade desired ardently to be freed from patent rights, 
and to share in the profits derived from the manufacture. 
The expense of the course of litigation between these 
parties, occurring from October, 1816, to July, 1817, 
was enormous ; 4200 on the defendant Moore alone, 
i. e. the winning side ; of which he received from the 
losing plaintiffs for taxed costs 1345 or 1488, it is 
not certain which. How much it cost Brown we could 
never ascertain. " During this period Mr. Heathcoat 
visited Mr. B. Moore, from time to time, to talk the 
affairs of traverse warp frames with him." The result of 
the trial was received with great joy at Nottingham. 

This class of machines furnished so few incidents of 
importance to the trade in after years that they may be 
most conveniently related here. Mr. Samuel Weston. 
reduced the traverse warp motions by crossing and 
lifting up the point bars at the same time. Mr. Samuel 
Moore first put the whipping thread apparatus to the 
breadths. Before then they had been whipped together 
by hand before dressing. Nunn and his partners tried 
at first to get their machines worked at Warwick by 
tape weavers, but they required far more highly skilled 
workmen, and to such they had to entrust them, paying 
them for some time 7 to 10 a-week wages. Part of 
their machines were afterwards taken to Blackfriar's 
Road, London, and part to Whippingham in the Isle of 
Wight. A portion of these have remained there till now. 
About 1819, Mr. Brown died in London a rich man. Mr. 
Freeman resided for years at Tewksbury, having realised 

Q 



226 THE TRAVERSE WARP MACHINES. 

considerable wealth, it is said, amounting to what is 
called l a plum.' In 1825, Crowder combined the pusher 
with the traverse warp, but the result was a too deli- 
cate machine. In 1828 spotted net was made on the 
traverse warp frame ; also Barnes and Deverill put it on 
to rotary power, but the warp threads got entangled in 
work, and it failed. In 1831, Barnes and Z. Bryant 
failed in a combination of the levers and traverse 
warp. In their machine the warp traversed by the 
action of the worms of two screws revolving on hori- 
zontal pivots and carrying the front warp threads to the 
right and the back to the left. This year, T. Alcock, 
of Worcester, put into the traverse warp an extra point 
bar, rising and falling in every traverse to carry up 
twist and keep threads from entangling; upon this 
he is said to have made six racks in an hour. Alcock 
constructed the same year a single tier traverse warp 
with rolling locker; the carriages, four and a quarter 
inches long, moved in circular combs ; it is said to 
have produced ten racks in an hour, but that is very 
doubtful. This year, 1832, Freeman produced spotted 
net without clipping threads, and also honey comb net. 
In 1833, Mr. Nunn made at his factory in the Isle of 
Wight, a pattern in imitation of French white silk 
blonde, which he called ' Neige.' This was sold as 
real lace without detection during a whole season, it 
is said to the amount of 60,000, of which sum probably 
40,000 was profit. Mr. Birkin and Mr. Vickers were 
both threatened with legal proceedings by Nunn, for 
producing the same pattern and article on other 
kinds of machines. But the pattern had been copied 
originally from a foreign lace, and the threat was 
disregarded. 



PLATE XII 

























^:- * ^^.-^>.^rf:; 




( 227 ) 



CHAPTER XVI. 



LUDDISM. 

THE war of 1803 brought yearly increase of taxation, 
and, being attended by bad harvests, the whole nation 
suffered, but especially the midland district. The times 
became troublesome and dangerous, issuing in the 
revival of Luddism. Frame breaking, as a mode of 
intimidating employers into compliance with the views 
and wishes of their workpeople, did not originate in 
the midland counties and in the present century, as is 
generally supposed, but was practised in London at 
least 150 years ago, when the disputes which had 
occurred for some years respecting the number of 
apprentices taken by master stocking-makers, came 
to a point, because one Nicholson had gotten very many 
of them. The unemployed and irritated journeymen 
proceeded to break about 100 frames thus worked by him 
and others, throwing them out of the windows, beating 
both the obnoxious masters and their apprentices. This 
occurred about the year 1710, and was confined to Old 
Street Square, Bunhill Row and the neighbourhood in 
St. Luke's, Shoreditch, and Cripplegate. The masters 
were deterred by these proceedings, and agreed to 
abide by the trade rules as to apprentices in future; 
while none of the rioters were punished, it is said not 
even apprehended. But one of the masters who had 
thus promised, named Fellows, decided to remove his 
frames to Nottingham, where he set at nought the rules, 
and, it is said, had at one time forty-nine apprentices, 
of whom many were bound by their parishes to him ; 
the practice being to pay at least 5 each to the masters 
on thus getting rid of them. 

This system of apprenticing by parishes to the 
weaving trades throughout the country, besides causing 

Q2 



228 LUDDISM. 

much suffering and demoralization to the oppressed and 
friendless youths of both sexes who were its victims, 
gradually so overloaded the trade with wandering 
unemployed journeymen, as to cause serious riots 
in various manufacturing populations. 

A committee of the House of Commons, after sitting 
to hear evidence on the subject, instead of stopping the 
malpractices of parish officers, passed an act in 1727 
punishing with death those who destroyed the machinery 
used in making cloth or hosiery of woollen materials. 
Whether from the terrible penalty thus threatened, or 
the greater area over which frame-work-knitting was 
rapidly spreading in England, acts of violence to the 
persons or property of hosiery employers seem to have 
practically ceased for forty years. Though the trade 
was manifestly leaving London, there were still colonies 
of stocking-makers here and there; one of the latest 
of which was located in Spitalfields, where the frames 
chiefly made silk hose ; and thus were nearly allied 
as to materials with the staple weaving trade of that 
district. The latter was much excited in 1770 on 
account of depression of wages, and which were sought 
to be raised by the terror arising from nightly destruc- 
tion of the warps in those looms, the wages for weaving 
in which were paid for at an under price. These 
nefarious proceedings were largely aided by the neigh- 
bouring frame-work-knitters. Some of the silk weaving 
rioters were taken, convicted, and hanged in front 
of the doors of the houses where the offences were 
committed. The London stocking-makers were greatly 
deterred by this severity from such lawless proceedings 
in future. Besides the Spitalfields' act, another was 
passed empowering justices to regulate wages, and if 
needs be to raise them a measure which was not re- 
pealed until 1824. 

The riotous spirit was not laid at rest ; it had only 
migrated into the midland district of England. Two 
bills having been rejected in 1778-9, which had for their 
object the regulation of apprenticeships and prevention 
of fraudulent work, chiefly upon the evidence of Mr. 
Need and some other hosiers, the country stockingers 
flocked into Nottingham, their frames were thrown 



LUDDISM. 229 

broken into the streets, and a house was burnt down 
between 10th and 19th June, 1779. Much other pro- 
perty belonging to obnoxious hosiers was destroyed. 
The riot act was read, and soldiers were called out. 
Such was the effect upon the minds of the authorities 
as well as the hosiers, that at the instance of the former, 
the latter, on 19th June, declared themselves unani- 
mously determined as a body, " provided an immediate 
cessation of violence took place, to remove every oppres- 
sion from their workmen, and to bring all the manu- 
facturers up to a fair price, not the highest rate, but the 
best generally given." Upon this peace was restored. 
A man, Mephringham, was tried at the assizes for 
aiding in burning the house, but was acquitted : upon 
which this sad conflict was allowed to come to an end. 
On this occasion about 300 stocking-frames belonging to 
Need and others were broken, they having been mostly 
employed in making spurious and, as it was then and 
up to 1850 generally considered by the workpeople, 
fraudulent work. 

In 1773, a newly invented stocking-machine was 
taken out of the Exchange at Leicester by a mob and 
destroyed, in spite of the entreaties of the mayor and 
others. Also Coltman and Gardiner, wool combers of 
Leicester, had a man in their employ in 1788, who 
invented the present mode of spinning animal wool by 
machinery into worsted yarn, applying the principle 
embodied in Arkwright's cotton spinning frames. To 
this man, named Brookhouse, the Leicester woollen 
hosiery trade is indebted for laying the foundation for 
much of its great extent and flourishing condition. His 
new plan was approved and taken up by Messrs. 
Coltman and Whetstone, two of the largest makers of 
worsted yarn in Leicester, and machinery was con- 
structed to carry it into effect. But it was all destroyed 
by a mob of workpeople, together with the dwellings 
of Coltman and Whetstone. Before the riot could be 
quelled the military were brought into the affray, and 
blood was shed. 

Thus the use of this important process was driven from 
Leicester at that time into Worcestershire, Yorkshire, 
and even to Aberdeen ; from which parts for the next 



230 LUDDISM. 

forty years, Leicester hosiers had to obtain much of the 
materials they worked up. Meantime Mr. Brookhouse 
set up his machinery at Warwick, and worked upon his 
invention with such success as to gain a fortune, upon 
which he retired. 

A list of prices, which had been agreed to in 1787 
by both masters and men, had been in the main adhered 
to during the following twenty years, when from 
rapidly decreasing demand lessened prices for goods 
and consequent pressure upon the workmen ensued. 
In 1809 several hosiers, amongst whom were Haynes, 
Nelson, Brocksopp, and Eaton, agreed to reduce their 
wages 3s. per dozen if the workmen would not or could 
not obtain a reduction of frame rents, and the entire 
cessation of cut up spurious work. To these two things 
the workmen were very heartily opposed ; but at a time 
when they could only get scanty labour if any, such 
as was within their reach, however ill remunerated, was 
not to be rejected. The time and circumstances on 
which the author is now entering, he himself passed 
through, and he has a most painful and vivid recollec- 
tion of them. The fear of an entire cessation of demand 
in the markets of North America, the heavy burden 
of war taxation and the loans necessary for national 
purposes, left manufacturers everywhere only confined 
means, and lowered credit. In the hosiery districts 
the warehouses were full of goods. How many thou- 
sands of times was that cry repeated " Give us work 
at any price ; half a loaf is better than no bread !" It 
was a heavy cry uttered too often ever to be forgotten. 
The years 1811-12 were sorely distressful, and even 
dangerous in a high degree throughout the three mid- 
land counties. There was as little unity of opinion 
amongst the hosiers as to the causes of the difficulty 
under which all were labouring, as amongst the men. 
The higher class of employers paying best wages and 
making the best goods, eschewing altogether the manu- 
facture of the spurious cut up goods, laid the larger part 
of the blame on their lower competitors giving less 
wages, making worse goods, underselling them, and de- 
stroying what little confidence buyers who still possessed 
means had in making purchases. The misery of the poor 



LUDDISM. 



231 



dependants on wages which when at work were reduced 
to an average of about 7s. a-week, but often not now in 
their power to earn, rapidly drew towards the point that 
passes endurance, as the close of the year 1810 ap- 
proached. So great and rapid was its progress during 
the next year, that the number of unemployed families 
relieved from the poor rates of the three parishes in 
Nottingham on the 30th January, 1812, was 4248, 
including 15,350 persons, or nearly one half of the then 
population. For twelve months past many working men 
had swept the streets in Nottingham, Leicester, and 
Derby, receiving a scanty eleemosynary pittance for 
their labour. Threats of vengeance had been loudly 
uttered against hosiers paying reduced wages. Early 
in March, 1811, many of these men came in from all 
parts of the county, and proceeded to carry their threats 
into execution. There was an assemblage in Notting- 
ham market-place. The military appeared, so there 
were no acts of violence attempted in the town. But 
sixty-three frames, chiefly belonging to Messrs. Bolton, 
were destroyed at Arnold that night. Two hundred 
more were broken in the next three weeks. These things 
were done no doubt by persons led on by able, daring, 
and resolute workmen. How many there were thus 
banded (as it was no doubt justly stated on oath), was 
never known publicly. It was believed the number 
was small of those actually engaged in the work of 
destruction, and that most of them were young. If so, 
they compensated by an activity almost ubiquitous for 

J.1 -If 

their want oi numerical force. 

But this would partly account for their unexampled 
secrecy, and the fact, that for years scarcely any were 
brought to justice. Samuel Slater, a frame-smith, was 
said to be a principal leader, if not general Ned Ludd 
himself so designated from the act of one Ludd or 
Ludlam, a Leicestershire lad, who, when desired by 
his father, a stocking-maker, "to square his needles," 
i.e. to place them in a perfectly straight line in the 
front of his machine, took his hammer and beat them 
into heaps. There were said to have been four com- 
panies or gangs, one each for the districts of Sutton 
Ashfield, Nottingham, Arnold, and Swanwick. Frames 



232 LUDDISM. 

were sometimes demolished the same night at places 
twelve miles apart. They made their attacks in parties of 
from six to fifty, and seem to have implicitly obeyed 
the command of their leaders. Those on guard were 
armed with swords, pistols, guns, and other weapons ; 
the actual frame breakers carried sledge hammers, axes, 
&c. After the work of destruction was done, the 
captain called them over by numbers, to which they 
answered, and on his firing a pistol, the men uncovered 
their faces and dispersed. 

An effective military force of about 800 horse and 
1000 foot, was concentrated chiefly in and near Nott- 
ingham, under the direction of several experienced 
military officers who had orders to consult with the 
local magistrates and two London police magistrates, 
specially sent down by government, to assist in every 
way practicable. Money was secretly offered for in- 
formation ; and a royal proclamation was issued offering 
50 reward for the apprehension of any offender. 
Notwithstanding all these measures, the devastation 
increased in extent and violence as the winter came on, 
and many country frames were brought into Notting- 
ham for safety. 

In November, 1811, one Hollings worth's frames were 
broken at Bui well, and all the furniture in his house 
destroyed. On this occasion resistance was offered by 
discharging loaded fire-arms at the assailants, whereby 
one of them, John Westby, of Arnold, was mortally 
wounded. There was great excitement at his funeral ; 
the riot act was read ; the high sheriff, magistrates and 
military being present. The enraged rioters destroyed 
next day a waggon-load of frames near Arnold, and a 
few days after thirty-seven frames at Sutton in Ashfield, 
belonging to one Betts, whose factory they sacked. 
Soon after he died deranged. Here the Yeomanry 
Cavalry caught four frame-breakers Bradbury, Mar- 
shall, Green and Clarke who were committed for trial. 
Stacks were burnt whose owners were active members 
of that force. In the following week thirty-six more 
frames were broken. The magistrates published a letter 
which states : 



LUDDISM. 



233 



"There is an outrageous spirit of tumult and riot, houses are 
broken into by armed men, many stocking-frames are destroyed, the 
lives of opposers are threatened, arms are seized, stacks are fired, and 
private property destroyed, contributions are levied under the name 
of charity, but under the real influence of terror." 

It goes on to point out 

"That all this tends to insurrection, and that it is their duty to 
suppress these evils by civil and even military force, and to cause the 
due execution of laws which will affect the lives of offenders." 

This address had no effect in checking the outrages. 
In the last week in November, forty-five frames, chiefly 
making cut-ups, w-ere broken at Basford, and others at 
Nottingham, Chilwell, Cossall, Eastwood, Heanor and 
Arnold. Upon this, the public-houses were ordered 
to close at 10 P.M. and inhabitants warned not to be 
out after that hour. The hosiers and lace manufacturers 
now felt sufficiently alarmed to hold a general meeting, 
at which it was resolved, "that if peace were restored 
they would be prepared to receive and consider pro- 
posals from their workpeople and remove grievances 
if any were found to exist." Twenty more frames 
were destroyed the following week, and the minds of 
the people were evidently inflamed by the tenor of the 
Royal proclamation. Farmhouses were plundered of pro- 
visions and money by men who declared "they would 
not starve while there was plenty in the land." It was 
in this last week of November, 1811, that the writer of 
these lines, then a youth of scarcely seventeen, was 
required by his masters to get into the saddle and make 
a long round, to convey the information that if their 
frames, of which they employed about 3000, were spared 
from the destruction with which they were threatened, 
one shilling per dozen advance would be paid the follow- 
ing Saturday, and be continued whether others paid it 
or not. It was a dreary afternoon with heavy rain and 
winter sleet. He rode hard, and at Basford, Bulwell, 
Eastwood, Heanor, Ilkiston, Smalley, Sawley, Keg- 
worth, Gotham and Euddington, delivered to their 
head frame-work-knitters the joyful news of the offered 
advance. The wintry storm, though uncomfortable 
enough to the messenger, tended greatly to the success 
of his message. It prevented for that night the maraud- 



234: LUDDISM. 

ing parties employing themselves; these frames had 
been undoubtedly doomed, for an example, as belonging 
to one of the most influential houses in the trade. 
The promise made was faithfully performed; not one 
of their frames was injured, and no further fears were 
excited as to the safety of their property. The author 
served for a whole year (at this time of alarm) as a 
special constable, and though so young had others, at 
first civilians and afterwards foot soldiers, to lead every 
second or third night. In the latter case six men armed 
with muskets were told off, and at 5 P.M. having received 
the instructions and pass-word from' the sitting magi- 
strate, he did the duty of patrolling with them in the 
town until six the following morning. The responsi- 
bility was new and weighty, and not altogether unat- 
tended with danger, the Luddites being armed ; and 
knowing they hazarded their own lives, they were 
not chary of the lives of others. Their daring and 
courage were shewn in the instance of one who entered 
a house alone in Rutland Street, Nottingham, one 
evening ; proceeded up stairs and smashed the material 
parts of a frame in a minute or two; but that short 
time was sufficient to cause an alarm; constables were 
in front of the house, and the author happened to be 
on duty, in Park Street, behind it. The man at once 
perceived his danger, threw himself on the roof; pass- 
ing along others he saw in the dim light that the earth 
had been lately turned up in a garden below, and 
leaped from the eaves of a three-story house upon it. 
The frame-breaker quietly passed through a kitchen 
where a family were at table, and escaped. In a few 
minutes the shouts of a sympathising crowd were heard 
at New Radford, half a-mile from the scene of the 
adventure. Nineteen warp frames worth 200 were 
broken at Linby, and fourteen stocking-frames at Rud- 
dington, with twenty at Clifton, in the first fortnight 
of 1812 ; also fifteen frames were destroyed at New 
lladford, nine at Basford, nine at Hucknall, five in 
Nottingham, and three at Butwell sixty-eight in all ; 
and the Sunday night following, eight in Nottingham 
in eight minutes. Wheat was now 5. 8s. per quarter, 
employment scarce, and there was great suffering. The 



LUDDISM. 



235 



town of Nottingham seemed as if in a state of siege. 
A large subscription was now entered into throughout the 
county, for the purpose of stimulating endeavours to 
suppress these outrages. It was headed by the names 
of the Dukes of Newcastle and Rutland, Earl Manvers 
and Lord Middleton, with others of 500 each ; Messrs. 
Sherbrooke, Manners Sutton, and many others, 100 
each, &c. 

At the March assizes in 1812, judge Bailey sentenced 
four frame breakers to fourteen and three to seven 
years' transportation leaving the commission of assize 
open, that if needful he might return and administer 
summary justice on any delinquents. At the July 
assizes, one was sentenced to fourteen years' transpor- 
tation and another to three years' imprisonment for 
frame breaking. 

In March an act was passed, extending the punish- 
ment of death to any one breaking a frame employed 
in manufacturing any kind of material. In April, 
Mr. Trentham, a Nottingham hosier, was shot by two 
men, but not mortally wounded, while standing at 
his own door. They were never discovered, although 
600 was offered for their apprehension. In November 
this year, Luddism became again prevalent, chiefly 
on Sunday evenings. Several frames were broken at 
Snemton ; but a bold defence of some others, made by 
Mr. Black, caused the practice again to cease for a 
time. 

When the government brought in the Bill which 
made breaking frames punishable with death, Lord 
Byron strongly opposed it in a debate which took place 
in the House of Lords, 27th February, 1812. In this, 
his maiden speech, he forcibly described the condition 
of things then existing around and in close proximity 
to his own dwelling, Newstead Abbey. His Lordship 
said 

"To enter into any detail of the riota would be superfluous, the 
House is already aware that every outrage short of actual bloodshed 
has been perpetrated, and that the proprietors of the frames obnoxious 
to the rioters, and all persons supposed to be connected with them, 
have been liable to insult and violence. During the short time I 
recently passed in Nottinghamshire, not twelve hours elapsed without 
some fresh act of violence ; and on the day I left the county I was 



236 LUDDISM. 

informed that forty frames had been broken the preceding evening, 
as usual, without resistance and without detection. 

"Such was then the state of that county, and such I believe it 
to be at this moment. But whilst these outrages must be admitted to 
exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they have arisen 
from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress. The persever- 
ance of these miserable men in these proceedings tends to prove that 
nothing but absolute want could have driven a large and once honest 
and industrious body of the people into the commission of excesses so 
hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community. At the 
time to which I allude, the town and county were burdened with large 
detachments of the military, the police were in motion, the magistrates 
assembled, yet all the movements, civil and military, had led to nothing. 
Not a single instance had occurred of the apprehension of any real 
delinquent, actually taken in the fact, against whom there existed legal 
evidence sufficient for conviction." 

During these excesses in Nottinghamshire, though 
few frames were broken in Leicestershire, yet the spirit 
of discontent was equally active there, but it shewed 
itself in a far more rational form. During the disturb- 
ances which prevailed, producing great alarm amongst 
the resident nobility and gentry, as well as all persons 
of property and others peaceably disposed, Mr. Gardiner 
relates, in his Music and Friends, vol. I. p. 476, that 

"Being at Wigston Hall, Lord St. John enquired of him their 
cause ; to which he replied, ' a party was going about drawing out 
and taking away the jack wires from the frames of those working under 
price.' This act renders a frame useless for the time, but does not 
injure it ; and when restored, the part may be replaced in the frame, 
by a competent person, in a few minutes time, so that it may be set 
to work again. Jack wires had been drawn and deposited in the 
churches at Arnold and elsewhere, before the more decisive step of 
destroying the frames was adopted." 

During the same year, 1811, Gardiner, being in 
London to oppose as a hosier the proposed bill for 
legislatively giving powers to fix the fashion and price 
for making all kinds of frame-work knitted goods there- 
after to be made, had an interview with the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, Dr. Manners Sutton, the representative 
of an ancient Nottinghamshire family, in the course of 
which his Grace said, " I am much alarmed at these 
Luddites, and fear they will produce a commotion if 
they are not speedily put down." A fear which per- 
vaded for the time the whole kingdom. Gardiner 
replied : 



LUDDISM. 237 

"It is to be lamented that the operatives entertain very wrong 
notions about the improvements in machinery ; and I am sorry to find 
well educated persons join them in saying they are injurious to their 
interests. Genius is not to be stopped in this savage manner. If 
invention is not allowed to work here, it will be carried abroad and 
ultimately destroy our trade." 

Upon this subject an old and experienced Leicester- 
shire stocking-maker remarked, "Frames were broken in 
1811-15, not on account of disputes about wages, but of 
cut-up work, which lowered the demand for fully wrought 
goods, and so tended to reduce prices generally." 

In October, 1814, the house of Mr. Thomas Garton, 
at Basford, was attacked. This person had caused the 
apprehension of a sworn Luddite, James Towle (after- 
wards hanged at Leicester) and being in expectation 
of this visit, he had obtained the assistance of several 
constables who were then with him. Several shots 
being fired, they fired in return, when Samuel Barn- 
ford, one of the assailants, fell. The rest in retreating 
shot a neighbour, Mr. Kilby, dead at his own door, 
which he had opened on hearing the report of fire- 
arms. Some wide frames making cut-up work were 
broken in and near Sutton in Ashfield about this time. 

A long cessation of Luddism ensued, until, in the 
night of the 18th of June, 1816, nineteen lace machines 
were broken in the shops of William Wright and 
Thomas Mullen. Two men were tried for this offence, 
and saved by their counsel, Mr. Denman, successfully 
pleading an alibi. If they had been convicted the 
judge and jury were to have been shot by armed men, 
many such being in the court. 

Whether the daring character, the extent of property 
destroyed, or the consequent dreadful results to the 
culprits, be considered, the attack on the factory of 
Messrs. Heathcoat, Lacy, and Boden, at Loughborough, 
which took place in the night of the 28th of June, 1816, 
was one of the most deplorable of these memorable 
affairs. Fifty-five frames were destroyed of the value 
of 8000 or 10,000, and the lace upon them was burnt. 
But the most serious and fatal part of these proceedings 
to the prisoners ultimately tried, was the " firing a pistol 
at John Asher, one of the workmen in the place, with 
intent to kill him." James Towle, who had been pre- 



238 LUDDISM. 

viously tried for frame breaking and acquitted, was 
found guilty of this attempted murder at the Leicester 
Assizes in August, 1816. He was executed in presence 
of an immense multitude, shewing undaunted self- 
possession, repeating and singing a hymn with seeming 
fervour. 

Daniel Diggle was convicted at Nottingham, in 1817, 
of shooting George Kerrey, at Radford, in December, 
1816, and wounding with intent to kill. He had 
pleaded guilty, and deplored on the scaffold his associa- 
tion with Luddites, thereby disobeying the commands 
of his parents. 

The same year, .at Leicester, eight men, Savidge, 
Withers, Amos, Watson, Mitchell, Caldwell, Crowder, 
and Clarke, were arraigned for the attempt on the life 
of Asher at Hcathcoat's factory. John Clarke was tried 
alone, on account of the challenges exhausting the jury 
list. On this occasion there was the additional evidence, 
such as it was, of Blackburn and Burton, two accom- 
plices, given avowedly to save their own lives. It seems 
from the statement of the first of these, and who appears 
to have been an active man amongst the managers of 
the frame breaking conspiracy, that 18 was given 
Withers, (who probably led the party and was one of 
the prisoners), with which to buy tools and fire-arms for 
the rest ; 40 more was promised to be paid when the 
frames were broken, and 60 more to be collected and 
distributed among the men actually engaged. Savidge 
was active in the money part of the affair. " The 
Radford job had not yet been paid for, though promised ; 
and none but old Neds" (men who had been thus em- 
ployed before) " would do for this expedition," which 
was felt to be one of hazard, requiring the utmost bold- 
ness and experience. Seventeen names were enumerated 
as forming this picked party. The jury found Clarke 
guilty; as did another jury the next day the seven 
others. A woman, whose husband was a workman in 
the factory, gave evidence, that hearing the noise of 
frame breaking, she went into the street, and being laid 
hold of by Savidgo, one of the prisoners, asked him 
why they broke the frames? He answered, because 
Heathcoat's men were working under price. On which 



LUDD1SM. 



239 



she replied, the men were satisfied, and they had no 
business to break the frames. She swore to the identity 
of seven of the men charged. 

Being found guilty, six were hanged and two were 
transported for life. The former shewed great firmness, 
addressing the spectators, and all joined in singing a 
hymn, one repeating it for that purpose. Fifteen 
thousand spectators witnessed the execution. After this 
scene Luddism seemed to have become extinct ; no frames 
being broken in these parts for several years. About 
one thousand stocking-frames and eighty lace machines 
were destroyed during this outburst of popular frenzy. 

The practice extended into the northern counties, it 
was professed on account of the increase of machines 
directly calculated to supersede manual labour. In re- 
gard to the object had in view by the Nottinghamshire 
frame breakers, opinions at the time and since have much 
varied. Probably there were various hopes entertained 
by the multitudes around, who sympathised undoubtedly 
with the movement, though they stood aloof from per- 
sonal efforts to promote it. The broad substratum of 
the whole of this wretched heap of wrong-doing was 
undoubtedly the hunger and misery into which the 
large portion of the fifty thousand frame-work-knitters 
and their families were fallen, and from which they 
never fully emerged for the following forty years. 
During that long interval, the average of the frame- 
work-knitters clear earnings by long hours of labour 
did not exceed six shillings a-week, 

It was upon the occasion of the condemnation of the 
eight men at Leicester, that Gr. Henson and William 
Robinson took up to London a numerously signed peti- 
tion for mercy, but before it could be presented, Henson 
was arrested, examined before the council, and confined 
seven months in Coldbath fields as a state prisoner, on 
suspicion of high treason. 

Amongst the papers on trade subjects which Grovenor 
Henson left behind him, is one, which if true and there 
seems no reason to doubt it, as to the main facts related 
throws considerable light on the question how this 
bobbin net frame breaking originated and was carried 
into effect. The paragraph is as follows : 



240 LUDDISM. 

"The patent machines were worked by hand; in a few years 
wheels were put in to work the carriages by machinery, which 
improvements doubled the speed, and these machines were called 
' Loughborough improved.' But even then, the patentees were pressed 
by the warp Mechlin nets, and had to reduce wages one-third. Upon 
this the (Nottingham) warp committee confederated with Lacy's 
Loughborough hands and the turn-outs ; and the resolution was 
taken, though it was then in the midst of summer, to destroy his 
machines. This was effected. Heathcoat was obliged to build 
entirely new machines." 

Lacy's hands referred to, were probably point net or 
warp lace workmen. When Heathcoat's patent traverse 
net factory was established, the newly sprung up manu- 
facture of warp lace was making rapid strides towards 
taking the place of the decaying trade in point net, and 
absorbing the hands, gave a very high rate of wages, 
therefore these workmen could well afford funds; and 
to destroy so formidable a rival as the twist net patentee, 
they would be very likely to find the money. About 
120 in all was promised for this business, and another 
recently performed was yet owing for, shewing that in 
both trades, hosiery and lace, when it was a question 
of breaking frames, the work was done for hire. No 
doubt the committee would select the ' old Neds' most 
suited for the purpose. The members of these trade 
societies were at that time and for twenty years after, 
bound together by secret oaths, and their leaders acted 
with most despotic power. It is not too much to say, 
that there was no trade combination in the three 
midland counties during the first forty years of this 
century with which though he might not, and in this 
instance doubtless did not, take a part Henson was not 
acquainted, both as to their leaders and designs, and in 
due time their operations. Thus, before the first frames 
were broken in March, 1811, at Arnold, at a conference 
with Brocksopp and other hosiers, it had been agreed 
" to give the men wwabated wages, provided they would 
join in bringing up the under paying masters to the 
same standard and to put down cut-up work." Henson 
expresses, in his manuscript account, great indignation 
because the men in this instance would not carry 
out the plan which if he did not devise, he strongly 
approved but went and broke Brocksopp's frames 
amongst the first batch at Arnold. 



LUDDISM. 241 

In various conversations twenty to thirty years after, 
he recounted at some length the fears and hunger and 
thirst of four of the men amongst the seventeen who 
made the attack on Heathcoat's factory ; who lay con- 
cealed, he said, the whole of the following day in the 
long grass then covering Loughborough meadows, not 
daring to stir from under the burning sun till night, 
and then not venturing to cross the bridge over the 
Soar, or through the toll bar at Cotes, for fear of detec- 
tion, taking bye-paths along the river by Zouch Mills, 
there crossing it, and so pursuing their course over Red 
hill, crossing by the Trent ferry at Barton they took 
their way along the bank, till they reached Nottingham 
and their homes. The names of three of these he 
mentioned, whom he described as having been deeply 
implicated in most of those acts of violence since 1811 ; 
but who on effecting this escape, and the equal danger 
of being denounced by approvers on the trials of their 
comrades, separated themselves from all lawless courses 
ever after, becoming wiser and sadder men. One of 
them lived until a few years ago, employed as care 
taker of valuable stock in a warehouse, and was a 
faithful and trusty servant. He wrote, it is believed, 
a full account of what he knew of Luddism, to be read 
after his death. But the paper, if it exists, has not 
been accessible to the author, through the sudden and 
lamented decease of the late Alderman John Bradley, of 
Nottingham. 

The name of the fourth frame breaker who escaped, 
Henson would never reveal, but promised to leave 
behind him "an historical account of Luddism," of 
which, if he should die first, the present author might 
avail himself. Such a document has not been found, 
which is much to be regretted, as its contents would 
have been both curious and valuable. So much was 
gathered from Mr. Henson, notwithstanding the decided 
repugnance he usually shewed to enter into details on 
this subject, as to make it quite evident that the execu- 
tions, which took place in 1816-17, were, in his opinion, 
the efficient cause of the disappearance of Luddism 
from the midland counties. 

The proprietors of the machinery which had been 

R 



24:2 LUDDISM. 

destroyed at Loughborougli, sued the county for the 
damage, which on an enquiry ordered by the King's 
Bench, it was decided must be paid to the amount of 
10,000. The magistrates required that the sum when 
handed over should be expended locally. To this 
Mr. Heathcoat gave a decided refusal, and the amount 
was never received. He said that "his life had been 
threatened ; and he would go as far off as possible from 
such desperate men as these frame breakers were." 
He agreed with Mr. Lacy that their future course as to 
the erection of new machines should be distinct ; and 
in conjunction with Mr. John Boden, of Loughborough, 
who had become a partner and the director of the sale 
of their lace goods in London, a purchase was made 
of a large mill at Tiverton in Devonshire, where 
machinery could be driven by the powerful stream of 
the Exe. This building was restored and enlarged, and 
the construction of rotary power machines was at once 
commenced and vigorously carried on until in the end 
three hundred were at work there. This decision, 
directly consequent upon the unlawful and deadly 
violence of a combination of workmen, has already 
deprived the midland district of the employment and 
profit derived from six or seven hundred machines, 
during the fifty years which have since intervened. 
Comment on such a fact is unnecessary. 



( 243 ) 



CHAPTER XVII. 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 1816 TO 1860. 

THE events which had just transpired at Lough- 
borough proved in their results to be the turning-point 
in the life of the bobbin net inventor, by fixing him in 
a new sphere, employing improved machinery worked 
by new and inexpensive motive power, and in the 
midst of cheap labour freely employed. He set himself 
vigorously to work for the improvement of these advan- 
tages. The description of several modifications of his 
machinery, made by others since that of the traverse 
warp, has been postponed, with a view not to interrupt 
the relation of Mr. Heathcoat's course. The like plan 
will be pursued as to the other more important inven- 
tors, whether in hosiery or lace. 

The next machine patented by Mr. Heathcoat was 
in 1816, No. 4037. He describes himself as late 
of Loughborough, now of Tiverton, lace manufacturer. 
His accurate knowledge of the construction of Lee's 
stocking-frame is not only demonstrated by the way in 
which he deals with its various parts in this ingenious 
modification of it, but he boldly subjected it to the 
processes necessary to produce the mechanical narrow- 
ing of the web, in place of performing it as hitherto 
by hand ; and, in addition, added rotary motion to it. 
This attempt, forestalling by thirty years the course of 
adaptations and improvements, which have been success- 
fully carried out for the like purposes only since 1845, 
was meditated and executed just at the time when his 
bobbin net machinery was destroyed, and when he 
would be deeply engaged in replacing it by other frames 
on improved models. In this specification of a modified 
stocking-frame, after giving a clear and succinct descrip- 

R2 



244 ME. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

tion of the working of Lee's machines the following new 
arrangements are set forth : 

The placing two or more sets of needles in a frame over each 
other, so that one set of jack sinkers and one set of lead sinkers 
will form loops on each row at the same time. Also dividing the 
sinkers into two distinct parts, the one part applied in front of 
the needles, and the other he calls hooks. There is a further combina- 
tion of parts described as thread layers, used so as to lay threads for 
the supply of several tiers or sets of needles, and of passing the threads 
between the needles so as to narrow the web on each edge, thereby 
enabling the machine to produce two or more webs at once in different 
heights or tiers by one set of jacks, and narrowed where desired. 
Also, finally, by a suitable arrangement, causing the machine to 
work entirely by the revolution of one pulley or drum. 

In the same year 1816, No. 4078 was taken out; 
and before proceeding to state in it the further improve- 
ments he had made, Heathcoat described the modified 
operations up to that time of his bobbin net machines 

As seen in the fetchers and shifting bars, in the action of the feet ; 
in the method of moving the brasses between the beam threads ; 
and describes five movements to pass the back division of brasses 
between the beam threads from front to back ; and seven more to pass 
the front division to the back, then five to return the back division 
to the front, and eight to cause the front to follow them" Also 
machinery for shogging guide bars; and for acting on the points 
in crossing and taking up meshes ; and for better producing the turn 
again and selvage. 

The improvements claimed in this patent are : a new application 
of added parts or guides to supply gimp threads to ornament the lace 
as it is worked. Applying machinery to give such motions to these 
additional guides as will direct and interweave the gimp according 
to the desired pattern, laying it along the sides of the meshes, not 
twisting the mesh threads round the gimp, but passing it longitudinally, 
diagonally, or horizontally. Also machinery for interweaving cloth 
work, either every course or discontinuing it to suit the pattern. 

In constructing the new machinery necessary to 
fill the Tiverton mill, Mr. Heathcoat arranged it so as 
to be actuated by the inanimate rotary power supplied 
by water and steam. This relieved the workmen from 
any labour but that of controlling and supplying them 
with materials. In thus making way for the general 
introduction of the factory system into this manufacture, 
he was followed immediately by Lindley, Morley, Sewell, 
Jackson, and Henson of Worcester. 

The infringers upon the patentees had been rapidly 
increasing, and the effect upon prices of their added 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 245 

production to that of Heathcoat, had become such in 
1816, as before the destruction of his machines, to 
require him to reduce his high rate of wages. Each of 
his foremen were permitted to have two or more machines 
of their own worked in his factory, the produce of 
which he took, paying them the prices at which his own 
goods were calculated before finishing. They paid their 
journeymen such wages as were received by the rest 
of the hands. Tiie reduction of wages brought the latter 
to two-thirds of the amount they once received. This, 
together with the difference of their position to that of 
the overlookers, caused dissatisfaction, and a turn-out of 
some. Mr. Boden, however, brought down finished 
goods bought in London with the invoices charged 
at such prices as convinced those hands who were out, 
that the infringers who had supplied them were greatly 
underselling the Loughborough production. They re- 
turned therefore to their work. Mr. Heathcoat was at the 
time in Devonshire, where he accidentally saw the mill, 
afterwards so unexpectedly purchased by him. This 
partial expression of dissatisfaction gave an opportunity 
for the trade interference from Nottingham. Mr. Boden 
was on the point of leaving for London, and had just 
quitted the mill with Mr. Hallam, when at midnight 
they heard a shot fired, and two of their men came 
to tell them that the machines were being broken, and 
that Asher was shot. 

Although for a time the Loughborough hands were 
thus entirely thrown out of work, the best of them 
were retained and transferred to Tiverton. There the 
greater part of them remained till old age or death, 
in the employment of Mr. Heathcoat, to whom they 
were greatly attached. Mr. Ferguson justly says, 
li Mr. Heathcoat was surrounded by a little world 
of workpeople, who loved him like a father." There 
were at the time of this exodus to the west of England 
of the patentee and his people, 156 infringers; viz. 
116 lace and hosiery manufacturers, 31 frame-smiths, 
2 watchmakers, 2 blacksmiths, 1 victualler, 2 butchers, 
1 coal dealer, and 1 joiner. 

The result of the trial above related, enabled the 
patentees to direct their attention to the important 



246 MR. JOHN 11EATUCOAT. 

question, how this body might be most satisfactorily 
dealt with. Their number having increased to up- 
wards of 200 in 1819, the patentees commenced actions 
against about thirty of the principal ones, and filed 
declarations against about twelve. It was to hide from 
notice at this time, that seven old Loughborough frames 
were placed in a garret in Houndsgate, and lay forgotten 
until 1846, when they were thrown to the scrap heap, 
before we heard of them : none have been seen since. 

Amongst the latter number of infringers were Grace, 
Berridge and Stanford, who were in partnership at Keg- 
worth. With them Heathcoat determined to try the 
question, because their machines were constructed (with 
trifling deviations) upon the model of his own. Berridge 
having been one of his workmen at Loughborough, and 
for some unexplained reason left behind, at once entered 
into an engagement with Stanford, a gentleman of 
property at Kegworth, and Grace, whose father resided 
at Quorndon, and himself was a captain in the army. 
Besides these who were rapidly building machines, 
ten framesmiths were then ascertained to be under 
contracts for one year, and one for seven years, doing 
the like and displaying great skill. The disabled state 
of the patentees to supply bobbin net, which was from 
time to time in great demand, gave an irresistible 
impulse to making machines. The trial against Grace 
and Co., took place in Easter term, 1817, in the 
Common Pleas. The damages were laid at 10,000. 
A verdict was given for Heathcoat, subject to a re- 
ference to Mr. D. Pollock. The plaintiff, however, 
wishing only to secure his rights, declined to press 
for damages. 

This trial established in a direct and positive manner 
the validity of Heathcoat's second, or ( old Lough- 
borough' patent. It was then ruled 

"That inasmuch as it required a division of threads into two 
systems, it was of no matter which was made to traverse, whether 
the warp or the bobbin. And further, as to John Brown's machine 
and any other, Heathcoat claims against all infringers that his is an 
engine whether of parts used before or those new and peculiar to 
his machine, that it is a perfectly new conformation of parts, entitling 
him to a patent according to Chief Justice Gibbs, in Bovill v. Moore ; 
Brown should have renounced the old parts and claimed only those he 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 



247 



had invented. But taking a part of Heathcoat's conformation into 
his engine and claiming for all, his specification is bad, it being only 
an improvement of another's invention, which tried by this test is 
a perfectly new conformation." 

The expectation of this trial caused great excitement 
and some consternation in the trade, which increased 
after the verdict and pending the award. The action 
had been defended by the assistance of a trade com- 
mittee backed by a large subscription, and represented 
in London by deputies in the conduct of the defence. 
An infamous handbill printed in the country was dis- 
tributed in the avenues to the court on the days of the 
trial. Mr. Heathcoat had received overtures from many 
infringing parties, who were desirous of obtaining 
licences, and had agreed to grant them. He staid the 
actions against others, wishing to save expence to all 
parties, and to calm the apprehensions of further litiga- 
tion. When the award was made Lord Chief Justice 
Dallas said 

"I know the system of terror that reigns at Nottingham, and that 
it is necessary to shew those who conceive that they can set the 
laws at defiance, not only that the laws will reach them, but that when 
it is proper there are those that will enforce them. Now that the 
cause is at an end, it is my duty to say that I have received this 
moment a paper, of which I have only had time to read enough 
to see that it is a most criminal attempt to interfere with the 
administration of justice by representing persons who by the exercise 
of their ingenuity have entitled themselves to patents, as monopolists 
endeavouring by their conduct to oppress the poor. Into so wide 
a subject as the operation and effect of machinery, I am not about to 
enter; but this I will say, that after the temporary inconvenience 
which is felt from what I would call the shifting of the scenes, 
whatever tends to abridge labour is in its result greatly beneficial to 
the public ; and patents of this nature would never be granted unless 
they were of public utility. Having said this, I think it necessary to 
add that persons who have, at the door of this court, distributed a 
paper of this description, if discovered, ought to be prosecuted ; and 
I recommend that an attempt to discover them be made, and if so, that 
a prosecution may be accordingly instituted." 

No further proceedings were however taken, and the 
effervescence of feeling gradually calmed down. 

The result of what had already taken place was to 
bring about a kind of general compromise, to which 
however there were a few exceptions amongst infringers. 
Licenses, containing permission to work the machines 
named in them, witli other ordinary covenants, and 



24:8 MR. JOHN IIEATHCOAT. 

constituting the Deputy Recorder or his nominee the 
general and binding referee in cases of dispute, were 
granted for about six hundred and ninety-six machines, 
by March 21st, 1818, as stated by the patentees to 
Bovill ; ninety of them being to himself, Brown, Free- 
man, and Aguttar. The licenses then produced about 
10,000 a year, and so continued to do until the end 
of the term. Many of these licensed machines were in 
the hands of capitalists ; but others were the property 
of persons who worked in them themselves, or who 
holding two or more had relatives as journeymen, but 
being without further available means must sell the lace 
net to the warehouses. The total quantity made was 
greater at times than the demand for it, and in conse- 
quence the article was much lowered in price. This 
seriously affected the interests of the patentees, who had 
difficulty in getting license money paid in, besides their 
production, as well as that of all others, being much 
reduced in value. A general meeting of patentees and 
licensees determined to enter into mutual arrangements 
in 1819, by a deed binding on the part of the patentees 
to grant no new licenses ; and on the part of all the 
holders of licenses as well as themselves, to raise a fund 
to be subscribed pro rata according to the number of 
quarters worked by each. Under this deed a 'mart' 
was established, a secretary appointed, and the patentees, 
six other larger owners, and six representatives of the 
smaller licensees, were chosen and constituted its trus- 
tees and managers. It was calculated that a fund of 
10,000 could be raised. The first year's contributions 
were under 3000. 

The plan was, for the association to buy at prices to be fixed from 
time to time by the managers, any lace net made on their machines 
and brought to it for that purpose by any of the parties to the deed. 
The contribution to the fund was fixed at two pounds per quarter in 
width of each of their machines, which might be represented by notes 
of hand for the amount. Lacy bound himself not to go beyond his 
127 machines, and Heathcoat his 147 machines. All parties were to 
use their efforts to prevent further machines being constructed. It was 
agreed also to pay on the requisition of the committee, a further sum 
of one pound per quarter of width, and finally threepence per quarter 
in width weekly while at work, during the continuance of the patents. 
The sums thus raised were to be used in buying up lace from the 
contributors, and in paying expences. The committee of which 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 249 

the patentees were permanent members changed half yearly by three 
going out, their successors were elected by ballot ; five to be a quorum 
and to them was given full power to transact all business, with 
the proviso that any goods sold on credit must be by permission 
in writing of the patentees and a majority of the committee : and that of 
all debts, credits, and assets, a faithful account should be kept 
in the books, in connection with the deed. At the expiration of the 
patents in 1823, the stock and debts of the 'mart' were to be 
forthwith realised by the committee, and the produce employed 
in paying the money subscribed. Any surplus to be divided amongst 
the workmen employed ; if any deficiency, a rateable proportion 
to be charged on the contributions, but legal proceedings to recover to 
be restrained for twelve months thereafter. The committee were not 
to be liable for any losses except from wilful neglect, nor for each 
other, nor to be considered or constituted partners. The rules might 
be varied by a majority at a public meeting, provided the patentees 
and a majority of the committee agreed to them. 

This document was signed by the two patentees, 
holding 274 machines and about 1918 quarters in width ; 
eighty-two manufacturers with 1261 quarters; and 
eighty-two smaller owners with 557 quarters. The 
patentees machines were from five-quarter to eight- 
quarter, those in other hands from three-quarter to six- 
quarter in width. 

The deed had not been signed by all who were 
become possessed of machines, and the few who were 
thus unlicensed infringers, gave no small trouble to those 
having heavy tribute to pay. The latter called on the 
patentees to protect them from this competition and 
secure to them their gains. More machinery also con- 
tinued to be added, the produce of none of which would 
come into the ' mart,' but be sold at lower prices in the 
open market. A bill had been filed by the patentees 
before this association was formed, but still pending, 
for an injunction, in which an affidavit was made by 
Heathcoat that ' ' by the use of his invention he supplied 
the market with large quantities of his lace at reasonable 
prices.' 1 '' Moreover other bills must now be filed for in- 
junctions to prevent further making of these patent 
machines. But the objections made to these proceedings 
were weighty ; and before long a question was raised 
as to the legality of the 'mart' association. For 
though the mart prices might not be unreasonable, yet 
no doubt they were higher than could be got from 
buyers under ordinary circumstances. 



250 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

The intention of the association was carried out by keeping up 
prices beyond what the article would otherwise produce. Therefore 
it was objected, ' that it was illegal, the public having a right to buy 
at the fair market value, as regulated only by the necessities of the 
makers and the purchasers.' 

Its legality was defended on the ground ' that its continuance was 
made to depend on the expiration of the patent: and that the 
association kept up the price of an article which the patentees could 
fix at any price they pleased during the patent.' The answer was 
made, 'the patentees are bound to serve the public at fair and 
reasonable prices ; and as they have chosen for their own purposes to 
license so many competing machines, the article ought to be sold 
without the intervention of any association, or fixed at such prices as it 
will produce in the usual course of sale.' 

Most parties seem to have admitted the illegality of such an 
association respecting any other than machine wrought net, the subject of 
this patent; but the opinions of some eminent men were said to 
vary on this point. The patent gives no rights beyond the particular 
kind of machine described in them. The article itself had been long 
made by hand on the pillow. 

Therefore when the point arose, ' was the association an illegal 
combination?' the Solicitor General Copley, in consultation with 
Hart and Bell, replied, 'we are inclined to think the association 
founded on the deed and regulated by its provisions is not an illegal 
combination.' As to some other points, they were of opinion that 
'the deed was not a breach of the proviso in the patent limiting 
the number of persons to be interested under it, nor did it prevent 
Heathcoat from applying a new moving power to his machines ; nor 
would the deed affect his successful application for an injunction 
against infringement.' 

In 1817 journeymen received Is. per rack per quarter 
of a yard in width, and the net they made sold for 55. 
per rack per quarter. In 1820 these prices had fallen 
to 4e?., and in 1823, 2^., to the journeymen ; and the 
net in 1820, Is., and 1823, 6^., the rack per quarter to 
the masters. The number of machines had increased 
so much that the owners now preferred to be under 
license, provided more were not constructed. In 1820, 
one thousand and eight machines were licensed, and the 
licensees themselves proposed that the tribute should be 
made 5 per quarter in width of each machine for the 
year. Journeymen paid 50 for a year by 1 per week 
to be taught how to make bobbin net. When the 
demand fell off occasionally, the production was stinted 
for a time. The warp lace frames were in 1823 making 
such expensive goods as to use chiefly No. 190 cotton 
yarn at 2 per Ib. ; some consumed finer numbers, pay- 
ing for them from ten to thirty guineas per Ib. 



MR. JOHN IIEATHCOAT. 



251 



Meantime Mr. Heathcoat continued in the midst of 
all this excitement, and the necessary labours of his 
enlarging affairs, mechanical, commercial, and legal 
to read and study as assiduously as ever. For some 
years he had been preparing, by the acquisition of a 
correct knowledge of the French language, to enable 
himself to carry out any business operations across the 
Channel. Such took place in 1818, when he established 
his machinery, working by steam, at Paris, and in which 
he is said to have embarked, first and last, at least 
50,000. He was well acquainted with Italian, and it 
has been said he was versed in Latin. The latter is 
however incorrect. He began to lay a foundation in 
1818 for a good collection of English and foreign works 
on the constructive sciences. 

The machinery for making lace, just referred to, 
was transferred from Paris in 1826, to large and com- 
modious premises at St. Quentin, where great additions 
were made to its numbers and power of production. 
There were at one time 150 to 170 machines, giving 
employment to a large body of workpeople. When 
this factory was visited in 1849 by the then President 
Louis Napoleon, he expressed his admiration at the 
intricacy of the machinery and the skill of its inventor, 
with his approval of the public spirit which actuated 
Mr. Heathcoat in that time of agitation and change, 
deciding him not to cease the regular employment of 
his numerous and effective, as well as peaceful artizans. 
The operations of this establishment were carried on 
until the death of its founder, since which, they have 
been almost entirely brought to a close. 

One of the defendants, Mr. Grace, in the action of 
1817, became soon after a partner with Messrs. Heath- 
coat and Boden, but in a short time quitted them. The 
partnership with Mr. Boden also was dissolved in 1826, 
when Messrs. Boden and Grace united their interests 
in machinery a connection which was not of long dura- 
tion. On their separation, Mr. Grace took his bobbin 
net frames to Rawleigh mill, Barnstaple, which, under 
the care of his partner Mr. Thomas Heathcoat, was 
worked until absorbed into the Tiverton business after 
the death of the latter. Mr. Boden having disposed 



252 MR. JOHN IIEATHCOAT. 

of his share of the machinery to Mr. John Miller, settled 
at Derby ; and, being well versed in business, from 
his long experience and possessing both talent and 
capital, he proceeded to lay, in conjunction with Mr. 
William Morley, who joined him in partnership there, 
the foundation of an extensive manufacture of bobbin 
net, where for many years about 170 machines have 
been at work. These were built under the able in- 
structions of Mr. Morley, of first-class widths, amount, 
and quality of production. Of this mechanician more 
will be said in a separate form. Mr. Boden's family 
connections alone carry on the business of this impor- 
tant establishment, which has always been employed in 
the fabrication of plain cotton nets. The Messrs. Bodens 
purchased from Mr. Morley his share of it, for, it was 
stated, about 70,000. 

The expiration of the bobbin net patent, was pre- 
cisely the period of national excitement in trade, as 
well as local activity in manufacture. At Nottingham, 
and throughout the whole district round, one of the great 
objects of every one's life, seemed to consist in seeking 
to become proprietors of machinery. Singularly enough, 
Mr. Heathcoat was at this exciting epoch as much 
engaged in devising inventions and improvements in 
other departments of manufactures, as in that of lace, 
hitherto almost engrossing his attention. Patents on some 
of each class followed each other in rapid succession. 

Among the diversified mechanisms which were 
thought by Mr. Heathcoat susceptible of improvement, 
was the machine for platting various materials, such 
as silk, cotton, and other threads. After giving special 
attention to the processes in use, he patented in 1823, 
No. 4867, the following new arrangements of a platting 
machine : 

1st. The distribution of the system of barrels in one line, where- 
by a number of these systems may be put side by side, forming a 
compact series of any required number, all actuated at once, or any 
portion may continue in action, while the others stop. 

2nd. Making all the axes of each set point to one centre, where- 
by the threads from the bobbins are of the same length, and do not 
alter their tension by changing their places ; and the required angle 
at which the plait folds over the margin, is determined by the segment 
of the circle in which the bobbins travel from one end to the other. 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 



253 



3rd. Simplifying or reducing the number of tumblers, by the 
under and over lapping of the barrel rims which carry round the 
spindles and bobbins. 

4th. By the flat arrangements of each series the breaking of any 
thread immediately stops that set by its action on the bar, throwing 
the wheel out of gear. 

In the second of these modifications, the simple and 
important principle introduced into his lace machine, 
of working on a segment of a circle to give out materials 
equally in relation to a common centre from a number 
of sources, is reproduced in making articles of a widely 
different texture and character. 

The manufacture of salt had engaged Mr. Heath- 
coat's attention for some time. He caused extensive 
enquiries and many experiments to be made at con- 
siderable expense in time and money. These issued 
in a patent taken out in 1823 by Mr. Josiah Parkes. 

The invention consisted in a combination of a boiler with a vessel 
placed under it, and below the action of the fire, so as that the salt 
may be deposited within the vessel as it is produced, and withdrawn 
therefrom without interruption to evaporation, or opening the boiler if 
a covered one. Also for cooling the salt collected, by using cold brine. 

His first invention in 1824, No. 4896, was for 
ornamenting goods manufactured from silk and other 
materials ; but did not proceed to specification. Then 
he patented No. 4917, a method of forming and finish- 
ing carriages used in the bobbin net machine, by 
stamping them out in dies instead of filing them out 
to size and shape, as previously practised. This plan 
was soon universally adopted in the trade. 

No. 4918, in 1824, was a patent taken out by him 
for improvements in rotatory bobbin net machinery, 
and in manufacturing certain parts of these machines. 
1st. An apparatus for giving off warp and taking up 
the lace so equally as to give invariable form and size to 
the meshes throughout the piece. 2nd. For machinery 
for cutting out the combs used in bobbin net frames. 

Of the same date is another patent, No. 4919, which 
caused much remark at the time, and though never 
carried into effect, is in more than one respect worthy 
of notice in the biography of the inventor. 

He described it as an improved and economic mode 
of combining lace or other machinery worked by power 



254 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

in spinning and weaving. It was upon what lias been 
known as the ' Panopticon' plan ; but only as to 
the power of general survey over the whole or nearly 
the whole of the machinery from one spot in the 
interior of the building. It was designed to diminish 
the cost of erecting factories; and to improve the 
warming, ventilating, and lighting of such places, and 
to give greater steadiness to the machines themselves 
when at work. 

The machines were to be so placed and combined or connected, 
as that one tier or circle on the ground floor might support a second 
series ; the second a third ; the third a fourth, &c. ; and this without 
pillars, arches, beams, joists, or floors of any kind, as a basis on which 
to place the several radiating superincumbent tiers of machines. The 
whole body of machinery was to be tied together so as to form one 
firm connected fabric or structure, without any dependence on the 
walls of the building surrounding it. The machinery was to be 
worked by an upright central shaft, operating by horizontal shafts 
upon the individual machines comprised in each tier. The over- 
looking was intended to be central also. 

Again, in 1824, Mr. Heathcoat devised and patented 
No. 4926, an invention of a core or conical form of 
paper, cork, &c., on which in spinning cotton, wool, 
or silk, the roving or yarn may be wound into a cop. 
Also an eccentric pulley, drawing the carriage in at 
a variable speed. 

And finally, in this year, he took out No. 4966, for 
improvements in the method of preparing and manu- 
facturing silk for weaving into cloth or net. These 
consisted in a machine for combining into one con- 
tinued operation, the processes of drawing off the silks 
from cocoons, and of twisting it into a thread without 
the intervening hanking and winding operations. 

The ends of cocoons being united into one thread, this is carried 
to a spindle and flyer by which it is twisted ; it is then wound upon 
a bobbin. By this mode 'singles' are made. The two or more 
threads for ' trame' may be in like manner separately drawn from the 
cocoons and twisted, care being taken that the separate threads 
converge equally to the guide forming the point of junction. 

A further improvement was effected in 1825, patented 
No. 5200, in this machinery for throwing silk. The 
plan was not found to answer in regard to more than 
one important point, when tried in France and Italy. 
The twisted threads going on the bobbins wet from the 



MR. JOHN IIEATHCOAT. 



255 



basins, required to be immediately re-wound into hank 
to prevent its caking together in drying, and so being 
difficult if not impossible to be separated. The loss of 
time in putting on the twist was so great as to lessen the 
gain obtained by getting rid of the intermediate processes. 
It never became general in Europe. Many thick sewing 
silks were thus made in the United States ; and the 
machine is figured and described in several of their pub- 
lications on silk growing nearly thirty years ago. It 
was shewn, with the original diagrams from the above 
patents, by the author, in lectures delivered by him. at 
the Athseneum and Mechanics' Institute in Manchester at 
that time. Yet Mr. Dickens, about 1854, on behalf of 
Mr. Chadwick brought out the plan as a new and im- 
portant invention, calculated to revolutionize the silk 
manufacture. 

In 1825, No. 5080 was added to Mr. Heathcoat's 
list of patents, being for improvements effected in the 
circular bolt double tier pow r er bobbin net machinery, 
by the combination of two additional locking-bars and 
the cams necessary to move them with the locking and 
driving-bars in common use in these machines. 

The next patent in this year was No. 5093, for im- 
proving the reeling of silk and its quality. 

By drawing off the silk filaments from the cocoons in larger 
numbers, but divided into separate smaller sets in the basin and 
up to the first guide wire, where the filaments of each smaller set 
are united. From these first guide wires as many of the smaller sets 
as will be necessary to compose when united, the size of silk thread 
desired for ultimate use, are taken through a second guide wire 
further on towards the reel, in front of which are placed the third 
guide wires to conduct the thread upon the reel and form the skein 
of raw silk. Before this takes place, however, a second thread 
similarly composed is brought from cocoons at the other end of the 
basin; and to incorporate fully the numerous filaments in each, by 
pressure of the warm and softened gum with which each is covered, 
these two ultimate thicker threads are passed round each other, and 
then separated before passing singly upon the reel. The surplus gum 
is forced out according to the number of twists given ; and the thread 
may be wound off the skein with much greater rapidity than when 
reeled of the old fine sizes, and with much less waste. The expence 
of winding and then doubling fine silk threads is also saved. 

This plan is to wind the cocoons in small numbers, 
as 4, 5, or 6, to each thread, but instead of taking it to 
the reel in this size, to reunite 2, 3, 4, or any number 



256 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

of these smaller threads into one, before they arrive at 
the second guide wire. The woman at the basin has 
to keep up only the smaller number correctly, and can 
thus make the ultimate thick thread as even as the 
finest ones. 

By this very simple arrangement, most important 
results were obtained. Previously, to obtain an even 
thread of 15, 20, or 30 cocoons in size, raw silk of 5 
cocoons was reeled; the skeins were then wound on 
bobbins, and the threads from 3, 4, or 6 of these united 
in one ; and after all the quality of perfect evenness 
was not so well secured, as by this patented method, 
while the serious expenses of the two last windings, 
with all the attendant waste, are by the new process 
saved. 

The idea of this obvious improvement occurred to the 
mind of the author (who had spent the previous year 
abroad on Mr. Heathcoat's account in practical enquiries 
about silk reeling) while conversing with him on their way 
to Paris, upon the importance of getting heavy raw silks 
evenly reeled ; and he proposed it for further con- 
sideration at the end of their journey, as he could not 
but suppose a method so easy and safe must have been 
thought of and practised before. But Mr. Heathcoat 
at once saw and sketched out how it could be done, 
and the next week the specification, written by himself 
with a drawing, were deposited at the French patent 
office. The author then again visited the Cevennes ; 
and introduced the plan to M. Tessier, of Yallarogue ; 
who, by his own freedom from prejudice, overcame the 
intense disgust at first felt by the silk reelers at the in- 
novation, and reeled that season, 1825, about 5000 
worth of 3-strand 5-cocoon silk, which gave a beautiful 
thread of 1 5-cocoon silk suitable for and worked up 
into bobbin net lace, partly in Paris and partly at 
Tiverton. No time was lost in taking out patents for 
Italy ; and the same season the author was enabled to 
get the plan put into operation by one of the most 
extensive silk reelers and merchants of Milan, M. Domi- 
nique Staurengo, at his Cernusco filature. Mr. Heath- 
coat made arrangements for a constant supply from 
filatures of his own in the Milanese and elsewhere 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 257 

a plan pursued in his business down to the present time. 
The author obtained 35,000 Ibs. of cocoons, in 1825, 
from Florence, took a young Englishwoman to Tiverton, 
who had been instructed in France to teach others how 
to reel, and these cocoons were reeled there on the patent- 
plan into 3,500 Ibs. of fifteen-cocoon raw silk by this the 
only English filature ever set up, and which was made 
into excellent lace at Tiverton. Though there is no 
absolute difficulty in reeling good silk in England, it is 
not likely that, from the adverse climate, it can ever be 
grown here to commercial profit. The use of this size of 
raw silk for making lace was confined during twenty years 
to Mr. Heathcoat. At last Mr. Wild, at the instance of 
Mr. Dunnicliffe, ventured on a part of a bale. Since 
then a very large yearly consumption has taken place in 
Nottingham. Its use led Mr. Heathcoat to make chemi- 
cal experiments in dressing silk net, which have resulted 
in his finishing it to equal perfection with the French. 

The next patents taken out by Heathcoat in 1825 
were Nos. 5103 and 5144, both being for divers methods 
devised for ornamenting or figuring lace, by applying 
* pearl' in various ways upon its lace so as to form 
bouquets, flowers, &c. intended as an approach to the 
'applique' work upon hand made lace. A purpose 
which it answered in some measure until further im- 
provements took place. 

In 1831, No. 6173 was taken out for improvements 
consisting of appendages to ordinary bobbin net ma- 
chinery, so as to produce a combination of various 
fabrics hitherto produced by the warp frame. 

This is a very curious introduction of the stocking 
loop by the use of the warp needles and guides placed 
in connection and working with the twist lace frame. 
The method by which the two classes of instruments 
for twisting and looping are made to co-operate, would 
require the aid of the entire specifications and drawings 
to explain. The invention is one of great ingenuity. 
Probably the combined result of the two principles 
was to complicate the machine, increase its cost, and 
render it more delicate in work, without producing a 
result equal to these drawbacks. 

No. 6222 was taken out in 1832, for further methods 



258 MR. JOHN HEATIICOAT. 

for working devices ornamenting lace net. These plans 
were all valuable as aids to the consumption of lace 
fancy goods, pending their more exact and elaborate pro- 
duction on the machines. By a modification he patented 
in 1833, No. 6471, the sewing or connecting threads 
in breadths are inserted so as to lay hold of two bobbin 
threads. He also describes the mode for inserting 
threads on lace by taking hold of two bobbin threads 
at the top of the meshes and passing across the warp 
threads, forming a kind of cloth work filling or orna- 
ment. 

Perhaps one of the most original and clever adapta- 
tions of the bobbin net machine is that patented by 
Heathcoat in 1835, No. 6967, for weaving tapes, ribbons, 
edgings, &c. in less space and with greater despatch 
than 011 the old weaving loom. 

This is done by weaving in a transverse direction, i.e at right 
angles to the ends from the back and front of the machine. The 
ribbons, &c. stand edgewise side by side, face parallel to each other, and 
to the ends of the machine. The shuttles and bobbins furnished with 
weft threads governed by springs pass from back to front and vice versa. 
There is a set of warp threads for each ribbon passing through headles; 
slaies clear the way for them. The ribbons as woven pass flat, side 
by side on the work roller. The warp gives off as the work beam 
thickens under regulation. Ornamented or fancy fabrics may be made 
by using separate warp rollers, and so different thicknesses of fabrics 
and tightness of warp threads may be provided for. 

In 1831 Mr. Heathcoat became acquainted with the 
late John Handley, Esq., M.P., well known as devoted 
to the strenuous endeavours for improvements in agri- 
culture. 

The result of their united investigations into the 
important and difficult question of cultivating land by 
the application of steam power, was the construction by 
Mr. Heathcoat of a 'steam plough,' which he patented in 
1832, No. 6267, under the description of " certain new 
or improved methods of draining and cultivating land, 
and new and improved machinery and apparatus appli- 
cable thereto, and which may be applied to divers 
other useful purposes." This machinery to be worked 
by inanimate motive power, (which, it was Mr. Heath- 
coat's conviction, would one day do most of the drudgery 
of life), he deemed to be a useful and profitable substitute 



MR. JOHN IIEATHCOAT. 259 

for animal power in many cases where ploughing, 
draining, &c. by traction, from the nature and form 
of the surface is difficult or even impossible. 

The machinery consisted of a carnage with steam engine placed on 
it, and an auxiliary apparatus capable of supporting an extended 
rope chain or band at a distance from the carriage. The latter 
received progressive and retrograde motion from the engine, which 
also drew the ploughs and other implements to and fro between the 
principal and auxiliary carriages at right angles, or any other 
convenient angle to the line of progress of the principal carriage. 

The wheels of this carriage conduct a broad, endless, flexible floor 
railroad or way, upon which the carriage travels, and will thus pass 
great weights over soft, swampy, and unstable ground. But on solid 
ground the carriage may be placed on rollers or drums instead of the 
endless floor. Other wheels are substituted for the carriage, proper 
for travelling on land or soil, firm and compact ; so simplifying the 
machinery and apparatus. 

Auxiliary carriages are placed on each side of the principal car- 
riage, by means of which, through bands from thence passing round 
the pulley or barrel of the auxiliary carriage, ploughs and other 
implements are dragged to and fro between them at convenient 
angles, and so a wide extent of land is brought under the operations 
of the machinery and apparatus. Flexible floors or ways are also 
placed under the wheels of the auxiliary apparatus, varying according 
to the nature of the soil. The boiler and engine on the platform 
of the principal carriage gives it locomotion in a longitudinal direction, 
as well as drives the drums or barrels which work the track ropes 
of the ploughs, &c. to and fro. 

This steam plough, though since superseded by those 
of Fowler and others, was considered the best that had 
up to that time been invented. Mr. Heathcoat was 
led principally to incur the labour and expence attend- 
ing this invention, by his desire to contribute to the 
agricultural improvement of Ireland an object he had 
in various ways sought to promote during the previous 
ten years. This steam machinery he considered to be 
specially adapted to the marshy unreclaimed land of 
the sister island. 

The attention of many had been directed by poli- 
tical discussions to the social, and, as a necessary 
consequence, to the agricultural condition of Ireland. 
Mr. Heathcoat deeply sympathised with the sufferings 
of the peasantry of that unhappy country ; and was 
led to join in the formation, in 1825, of the Irish Land 
Improvement Association, in the hope that it might 
effect important ameliorations there, beneficial both to 

s2 



260 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

the farmer and labourer. His thoughts were turned 
to the question, whether the mulberry could be grown 
and silk produced there, and he sent 100,000 plants 
and a large quantity of mulberry seed to be sown, 
as a contribution at his own expence, and for an 
experiment. He had however stipulated in the pro- 
jected laws of the company, that the shares should 
under no pretext be made the subject of sale and 
purchase upon the Stock Exchange ; therefore, on 
finding that important rule set aside in the speculations 
of 1825, he at once withdrew, publicly assigning his 
reason for it, and the crash of 1826 amply justified 
his determination. Forty subsequent years of observa- 
tion on the course of Stock Exchange proceedings, 
compel one to dread that it may become at last the 
most ruinous as it is the greatest gambling-house in 
Europe. 

In 1837 a patent, No. 7359, was for a mode of 
ornamenting gauze, muslin, or net, cloths, stuffs, or 
any woven textures, and for tools and apparatus used 
in producing such ornamented work. 

This was a mode of adding figures to the surface 
of the tissue to be composed of edgings, &c., by adhe- 
sion from using size, pressing the net and flowered 
work through rollers, and thus causing the super-im- 
posed ornaments to adhere. Articles thus flowered 
had a sale for some time ; but the method has not 
continued in extensive operation. 

John Heathcoat and Ambrose Brewin his son-in- 
law and partner, patented in 1843, No. 9646, a new 
method of intercepting warp threads, so making the 
application of the Jacquard apparatus more easy and 
secure. It included also a method of producing longi- 
tudinal stripes in nets of various widths of cloth work, 
almost non-elastic, by using extra guide bars, and 
causing the point bars to take up more frequently. 
And finally, for ornamental printing on nets, which 
had been thickened by laying in extra threads. After 
this epoch, Mr. Heathcoat retired from the more press- 
ing pursuits of business in his manufactory, and from 
endeavours after further discoveries in machinery. 

This comparative leisure, when at Tiverton, led 



MR. JOHN IIEATHCOAT. 261 

Mr. Heathcoat to consider how he might assist in im- 
proving the education of the population there. As the 
result, a noble and well-arranged building was erected 
in a convenient situation at Tiverton for British schools. 
The edifice is of stone from a neighbouring quarry, 
shewn by this experiment to be capable of superior 
finish. The ornamental parts are of Bath stone. The 
iron work was cast in his adjacent foundry. One of 
the lofty and spacious wings is for boys, the other for 
girls; the central apartment is for the infant-school. 
These were opened publicly on the first of January, 
1843, in the presence of the mayor and other principal 
friends of education in the borough. 

In his remarks made upon this occasion, Mr. Heath- 
coat explained the motives by which he had been 
actuated, and the objects he had in view in establishing 
these schools. The observations then made, bring into 
view some of the characteristics of the speaker ; espe- 
cially exemplifying his firm, yet conciliatory manner 
in handling subjects, difficult in principle or practice. 
An abridgement of them will therefore be interesting 
to those who desire to form a correct estimate of the 
man. The subject was introduced by his saying, that : 

"Happily there is now no justification necessary for such educa- 
tional institutions. That question is set at rest. But doubts are 
entertained, as to the step I have taken in opening these schools, 
on the liberal principle of seeking to educate the children of parents 
of all denominations of Christians. I would cast no reflection upon 
those who differ from me in opinion ; but claim the credit of good 
intentions, while exercising the right of acting upon my own. 

" Similar schools have been carried on for the past half century, 
without injury or inconvenience; on the contrary with most satis- 
factory results. Allowing children thus to mingle together irrespective 
of religious distinctions tends to prevent those distinctions from rising 
up as barriers in after life, and encourage abiding kindliness of 
feeling. These being my honest and sincere opinions I desire to 
act upon them. I have not previously assembled you for consultation, 
because I did not wish you to put your hands in your pockets. 
I believed you would have confidence in my intentions : these I will 
honestly and impartially carry out. 

"Great importance is justly attached to the selection of teachers. 
I have not thought it right in applying to the British and Foreign 
training schools to stipulate for more than that they should supply us 
with good and pious Christians ; such as shall be well fitted for the 
duties they undertake. As in that establishment I found churchmen 
and dissenters living together in harmony and good will and with 



262 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

no instance of a teacher being drawn over to other religious views ; 
there is security for us, that the same results "will take place here ; 
and that the teachers will feel it their duty to instruct in the funda- 
mental principles in which all agree, and leave alone those minute and 
difficult points of distinction, of which \vere we ourselves to think 
less it would be better. We too often look with microscopic eye for 
these points of difference, rather than for those on which we can 
agree, and having found them, magnify them into importance, and 
allow them to produce feelings most undesirable amongst Christians. 
I should be sorry if my friends of the church (of England) should 
think this a dissenting school ; or erected in opposition to one 
belonging to them. Could the whole have been united in one large 
establishment, there would have been peculiar advantages, and 
I should have been much more gratified. I hope that because I have 
thought it my duty to provide this school for those who could not be 
benefitted by the other, no jealousy will arise between them ; and that 
all concerned in this will cherish the kindliest feelings towards the 
national school and all others. 

' ' The instruction to be given here must of necessity be elementary ; 
but that sound and good of its kind, such as may be carried on 
if opportunity offers, with advantage by the individuals themselves in 
after life. Amongst the things to be taught, the principles of religion 
are of the first importance. It is essential that these should be in- 
culcated even from infancy. For instruction in distinctive creeds, 
Sunday Schools offer the fittest opportunity; and we make it 
a condition that children admitted here must belong to some Sunday 
School. 

"Another important part of education attended to here, is the 
formation of good habits habits of cleanliness, order, subordination, 
industry and proper behaviour to equals and superiors ; not by lessons 
or precepts only, but by training the children to practise them. 
Though for the present I and Mr. Brewin, purpose retaining the 
responsibility, we shall listen to any friendly suggestions with 
deference, and endeavour to act upon them. If however superior 
advantages were sought by any one on behalf of his particular party, 
we should not be prepared to meet his views. 

"To those parents who may be desirous of sending their children 
to these schools, I may be permitted to address a few words as to 
what will be expected from them. We shall require that the children 
be fit to associate with other children. If from having had bad 
examples as to language and general habits, they would expose the 
children of others to danger and mischief, we shall be obliged to say 
to the parents of such, ' we fear the harm your children will do to 
others will be greater than the good we cau do to yours, and we 
cannot admit them.' We do therefore expect and require from 
parents that they will take care by good example and as to health, 
morals and general condition, that their children shall not be rejected 
for the faults of their parents. 

"I would say to the young persons who undertake the conduct 
of these schools, that the responsibility devolves upon them, whether tho 
children are benefitted to the degree they ought or not. I rely upon 
them for the fulfilment of their duties in an exemplary manner ; and 
to act with a wise caution amongst strangers and in meeting inevitable 



I 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 263 

embarrassments, as well as in forming new associations. Their active 
pursuit of duty will render them independent of companions and 
of the idle gossip resorted to by some to kill time. Being amongst 
strangers and without acquaintances, I wish them to consider they 
have one resource ; and that is, any advice they may deem it proper 
to ask will be given most cheerfully by me. Towards the children 
they have already learnt their duty, and are more capable of teaching 
me than I them. Let them earnestly aim at combining kindness of 
manner with great firmness, though justly to unite the two is a 
difficult acquirement, and they will succeed. From all Christians 
here I am sure they will receive kind attention ; from ourselves, every 
comfort and assistance." 

These schools were not confined to the children 
of persons connected with the factory, but open to all ; 
and have been continued in successful operation on 
this principle ever since. 

When the lace machinery was brought to Tiverton 
in 1816, the ancient woollen manufacture was so 
wretchedly depressed, that the labouring population 
was little employed and worse paid. The town had 
become the residence of military and naval officers 
on half-pay since the peace of 1815, who no doubt 
chose it because of its mild climate and cheap provi- 
sions, perhaps also for the advantage of an ancient 
endowed school. The advent of such an addition to the 
population as that employed by this factory, gradually 
raised the prices of everything to the annoyance of some ; 
but the compensative result to retail trade was very 
remarkable. An officer came there to reside, and re- 
marked in the hearing of an old and experienced collec- 
tor of King's taxes, that " the coming thither of lace 
machinery had ruined Tiverton." On which the other 
rejoined, "I can shew by my books, that in 1816 there 
were not three shop-keepers in High street," (the prin- 
cipal street), " who could pay their taxes regularly, and 
that now (1826) there are not three that owe any." Its 
old importance as a borough returned with the arrival of 
Heathcoat, and has remained ever since. 

In the factory at Tiverton there were employed in 
1836 about 1200 hands, in 1860 about 2000. On the 
occasion of an excursion to Teignmouth, in 1836, given 
to the hands and their families by the firm, 2300 
persons formed the party. The operations carried on 
by these workpeople are yarn doubling, silk spinning, 



2G4 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

making net lace, bleaching, dyeing, preparing it for the 
market, smithing, and frame constructing ; together with 
those of an iron foundry and the manufacture of plough 
shares, coulters, horseshoes, and other farmer's imple- 
ments, forming a useful establishment to which the 
neighbouring occupiers of land can have recourse. The 
gas for lighting the town has been from the first supplied 
from these works. Since 1828 the factory gates have 
been regularly opened and closed so as to secure ten and 
a half hours' daily labour, and give one and a half hours 
for meals. In 1860 the number of machines had been 
reduced to 150, but increased to 122 inches in width 
and of great speed. They were entirely employed in 
making silk net. As Mr. Heathcoat always finished the 
larger part and latterly the whole of his production, 
he had no motive to destroy his narrow machines until 
they were fairly worn out. Therefore he only begun 
to replace his old 8, 10, and 12-quarter by wider 
machines within the last few years, while at Nottingham , 
the cost of new 16-quarter and 20-quarter machines had 
been of an enormous amount. 

Mr. Heathcoat felt deep interest in the lace trade of 
Nottingham ; and when it has suffered reverses, they 
have never failed to call forth strong expressions of his 
sympathy. The large amount received collectively for 
tribute up to the expiration of the patent, was naturally 
unpalatable, and left a feeling of displacency on the 
minds of some long after that time. In justice to him 
it must noiv be stated, that during the whole of the 
period that intervened between 1826 and his death, the 
writer of this work (for the larger part of the time 
the representative of his private business in the Notting- 
ham trade) was entrusted by him to act unreservedly on 
his behalf in the public discussion and management of its 
affairs ; and was empowered to pledge his co-operation to 
whatever the owners of the majority of machines should 
decide to be done, in pursuance of the general prosperity 
of any and every department of it, whether employers 
or employed. Such resolutions were without excep- 
tion or hesitation carried into full effect, both in his 
own factory at Tiverton, and by his brother, Mr. 
Thomas Heathcoat at the Rawleigh Mills, at Barnstaple. 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 



265 



Thus when the trade reduced the working hours for 
twelve months from twenty to twelve, he holding at 
the time large orders and small stock, at once reduced 
his time to twelve hours ; but when at the end of that 
year the Nottingham trade returned to twenty, he con- 
tinued ever afterwards to work only the twelve natural 
hours of a day's labour. 

The inhabitants of Tiverton, in 1843, determined to 
mark their sense of the liberal and benevolent conduct 
of their enlightened member, Mr. Heath coat, by pre- 
senting his picture to the corporation of the town. The 
subscription for the purpose was more than sufficient, 
and a gold snuff-box was purchased with the over- 
plus, which was presented to the honourable member 
at a public dinner, Lord Palmerston being amongst the 
guests. The likeness is an admirable one. In replying 
to the address of the presiding clergyman, Mr. Heath- 
coat made the following remarks : 

" My friend, the president, has stated various reasons which have 
induced you to shew me this act of kindness, and I may say affection ; 
but there is only one ground on which I can presume to accept 
this token of regard. It is not on the ground of merit of any degree 
on my part, but of kindness on yours. The reverend president 
has reminded you of the period when, I think twenty-seven years 
since, I first came amongst you. It will be in the recollection of many 
whom I see here that I came almost like a shipwrecked mariner cast 
away upon your shores. From that day to the present I have only 
experienced one series of kindnesses from you and of happiness 
among you. I am not aware that I have ever done any thing to merit 
this kind compliment. To contribute to the comfort of the town one 
lives in, is but securing one's own, and to attribute merit to a man for 
so doing would be almost as inconsistent as to be surprised at his 
endeavouring to make his own house comfortable. Our happiness 
depends as much on the comfort of our neighbour as on our own. 
No individual can be happy unless his neighbour be happy with 
him. There is one word that I am desirous of addressing to you, 
which I hope may be of service to others when I myself may be 
no longer useful to you. It is well known to you all that I entered 
life in that state which is not generally looked upon with envy, as an 
artizan who had to earn my own livelihood. Under these circum- 
stances I had to encounter many difficulties. These have been 
overcome ; and notwithstanding the situation in which I commenced 
life, I have had the gratification of receiving this testimony of respect, 
which I esteem more than everything else I have acquired. This will 
be an encouragement to others not to allow difficulties however 
formidable to cause them to despair. With industry and care, with 
perseverance, and above all with a strict regard to their duty to God 
and their neighbour, they never ought to despair." 



266 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

Young men setting out in life always engaged his 
sympathy and advice, and he gave them encouragement 
derived from his own success. If necessary assistance, 
pecuniary and otherwise, was added, sometimes to 
an important extent. From his naturally cheerful and 
buoyant disposition, he took a bright view of the charac- 
teristics and talents as well as conduct of those around 
him, and in whom he took an interest. He was liable to 
be disappointed, and indeed was so occasionally; but this 
did not embitter his feelings or disturb his equanimity. 
He took a broad estimate of the importance of the things 
that make up the business of life ; and the soundness of 
his judgment prompting to successful action in weighty 
trade matters, more than counterbalanced any mistakes 
in his estimate of individuals. Few men have won those 
by whom they have surrounded themselves more entirely 
to their interests and persons than himself; they repaid his 
confidence with a sincere and lasting attachment. About 
twenty years ago his managers, clerks, and agents pre- 
sented to him a service of plate, as an expression of 
their grateful respect and esteem. The general body of 
his workpeople, to the number of between 1200 and 1300, 
presented to him in May, 1859, a silver inkstand and 
gold pen, on the occasion of his retiring from Parlia- 
mentary life. Without ostentation or display, and in 
the quietest way imaginable, Mr. Heathcoat overcame the 
local coolness with which he was met for a short time by 
some who disliked his eminent position as a great em- 
ployer of labour, and feared his influence. This all 
gradually passed away, and was replaced by respectful 
esteem and confidence. It was no wonder therefore 
that upon the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832, when 
the ancient family influences in politics were disturbed by 
an increase of the popular element in the constituency, 
attention was at once turned towards him as a suitable 
representative for the borough. Such a public bene- 
factor it was felt ought to sit in the supreme legislative 
body. He was accordingly chosen to be a member of 
that honourable house, just twenty years after he 
ceased to handle the hammer and the file, and continued 
to sit in it without interruption for twenty-eight years. 
During the principal part of that time, Lord Palmerston 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 267 

was his colleague and his frequent guest. On several 
public occasions his lordship expressed his high regard 
for him ; and when Mr. Heathcoat retired, from age 
and infirmities, took occasion upon his own re-election, 
to express his regret for the loss of so excellent a 
coadjutor, paying him an eloquent tribute of praise. 
Though Mr. Heathcoat seldom spoke in debate, he 
was indefatigable in attendance, and his aid in com- 
mittees was much and deservedly prized. In politics 
he was not a theorist, but a thoroughly practical man. 
He would advance where it was safe and necessary, 
and would alter, expunge, or supplement where requi- 
site ; always, however, in accordance with the principles 
of the constitution. He made light of speculative 
theories in philosophy and science, and abhorred them 
in politics and social life ; regarding them as alike 
delusive and dangerous. He was an every day and 
home reformer, and desired that each man who really 
cared for and governed his own family well, should have 
a voice in the government of his country. He knew 
by his own experience how vast a number might by 
virtuous self-denying efforts even now raise themselves 
into that position. Mr. Heathcoat's course in the House 
of Commons was equally patriotic and independent, free 
from faction and self-seeking; consistent and honour- 
able, entitling him to that respect and confidence which 
he received from the best men of all parties in that 
assembly. It was his happiness to be joined in public 
life by similar self-raised men. At a dinner party in 
the house of a friend at Leicester, in 1834, there met 
Wynn Ellis, M.P. for that borough, Richard Potter, M.P. 
for Wigan, Joseph Brotherton, M.P. for Salford, William 
Biggs, M.P. for Newport, John Heathcoat, M.P. for 
Tiverton, and Richard Harris, future M.P. for Leicester. 
It was a re-union of remarkable men, placed in a posi- 
tion made possible for the first time ; legislators drawn 
from a new class ; who by the experience they had 
gained, the knowledge they would impart, and the in- 
fluence they could exercise, must prove eminently useful 
in any deliberative body. 

The business of the Tiverton lace manufactory is 
carried on by Mr. Heathcoat's only male descendant, 



268 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

Mr. Heathcoat Amory, in partnership with others allied 
to the family. 

Mr. Heathcoat was a magistrate and deputy lieu- 
tenant of the county of Devon. His unremitting atten- 
tion to parliamentary duties, prevented his taking part 
except occasionally in the business of this borough and 
the district around. After two years of gradually de- 
clining strength, his useful and honourable life was 
brought to its close in January, 1861. 

The following testimony was borne by a local Journal 
to his character in describing his public burial : 

"The last earthly honours were paid on Thursday last to the 
remains of that kind and benevolent gentleman who has just gone 
from among us. A man who had rendered himself so truly illustrious 
by his philanthropy and virtue, by the disinterestedness and upright- 
ness of his conduct, by his love of truth, and by his ardent attachment 
to the great interests of mankind, very naturally endeared himself to 
those amongst whom he lived ; and produced an unanimous demon- 
stration of respect, when his body was conveyed to the family vault in 
the churchyard of St. Peter at Tiverton, from Bolham House, his late 
residence. It was preceded by the Masters of the Ancient Blundell's 
Public School, and the Baptist, Independent and Wesleyan Ministers ; 
also by the Borough Magistrates, the Mayor and the Town Council ; and 
followed by a body of Clergymen of the Church of England, relatives, 
friends, his late fellow member Mr. Denman, the neighbouring gentry, 
the clerks, foremen and artizans of his factory ; the long procession 
being closed by a large number of Tiverton tradesmen. All business 
was suspended and the shops of the town were closed. 

" After an impressive service, the grave closed over one well known 
through a long life for his steady devotion to the cause of truth 
and patriotism; and for public and private virtues, commending 
him to the respect of all parties. Tenderly alive to the duties that 
wealth imposed, the poor and needy he never sent empty away ; while 
he humanely relieved the distresses and embarrassments of his 
neighbours. He maintained a high sense of moral obligation as 
proved by the discharge of duties laid upon him with impartiality and 
uprightness. His sober and rational equability of temper and 
conduct, shewn through life, is an example worthy of being held 
up to all, especially to such as are called upon to tread a path so 
perilous as his, in the commencement of life. His name will continue 
to be revered, wherever philanthropy, patriotism, and virtue, are held 
in estimation." 

What Mr. Heathcoat was not may be studied and 
imitated by every artizan with great advantage, when 
contrasted with several of the biographical notices in 
these pages of other men of great mechanical genius, 
and engaged in the same arduous pursuit after success 
and fame. The testimony of all who knew him, whether 



MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 269 

in early or later years, is very significant. There was 
no misspent time nor indulgence in youthful follies. He 
was not found amongst men of unsound character and 
principles, the bane of the working man's home, and of 
his prospects, independence, and usefulness in after life. 
From all such he kept aloof; yet ever shewed the most 
sincere regard for the well-being of the humblest working 
man and his household. 

Much that Mr. Heathcoat was, will have been 
gathered from what he did, and the position he so 
early attained and so well filled. The high estimate 
of his character in Tiverton, and the value of his 
services to it, have been recorded in the eulogium 
pronounced as it were over his grave. His services to 
Nottingham may be stated in one sentence. His in- 
vention gave to it a trade, which within fifty years 
has mainly assisted to quadruple its population, giving 
employment year by year at fair wages to probably 
1 50,000 workpeople, and for the past thirty years made 
an average annual addition of 4,000,000 sterling to 
the trade of the country. His great natural gifts, 
sound understanding, quick perception, and inventive 
genius, were plainly manifested in the work of his life. 
He stored his mind well by a diligent study of the 
thoughts of others, as recorded in the best literature of 
the past and present age ; and there were few subjects of 
importance in natural or moral science on which he 
had not formed well considered opinions. His studies 
and memory were aided through life by a faculty, 
whether intuitive or acquired, it is hard to say, of dis- 
missing from his thoughts and memory matters of a 
trifling and passing nature, leaving a proportionally 
clear remembrance of facts, arguments, and the grounds 
of judgment upon important subjects, of whatever nature 
they might be. His conversation was instructive and 
agreeable, though from indisposition to assume marked 
prominence, and a determination never to utter thoughts 
or opinions hastily formed, he was slow to engage in dis- 
cussion, except in the familiar intercourse of friendship. 
He knew when to speak and how to be silent, without 
any tincture of pride or semblance of cold indifference. 
Great wealth and a higher station had little influence 



270 MR. JOHN HEATHCOAT. 

on the manners and habits of Mr. Heathcoat. His 
tastes and enjoyments through life continued to be of 
the simplest kind. He was of so calm and equable 
a temperament, that through a long series of much 
personal intercourse, the author never saw him really 
angry, though there were times and circumstances 
under which such an expression of feeling would have 
been quite justifiable. His address, like his countenance, 
was remarkable for smiling amenity and gentlemanly 
courtesy. Thus it was to all. One of his workmen 
said to us long ago, "He has always a kind word for 
everybody." Miss Mitford writing to a friend thirty 
years ago said " Mr. Heathcoat has just been here. 
How charming and simple a person how perfect a 
gentleman ! But a man of high inventive genius must 
be so." Integrity and uprightness of conduct and 
character were allied in him, to that delight in excel- 
lence which ever seems to be an attribute of real 
greatness and goodness. He was true to his friends, 
and determined if possible not to have any enemies; 
therefore was silent and placable under injuries. He 
freely assisted the afflicted, the weak, and the necessi- 
tous ; and was most admired and beloved by those who 
knew him best. They cherish his memory, and revere 
him for those qualities of head and heart, which render 
his character so worthy of study and imitation. 






( 271 ) 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



THE SINGLE TIER LEVERS' BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

IN the year 1813 another modification of the patent 
or ' Old Loughborough' machine was effected, realizing 
the idea Mr. Heathcoat originally entertained of placing 
all the carriages and bobbins in one tier. This of course 
required them to be made of only one half the thickness, 
and the combs in which they worked to correspond. 
The general construction of the machine had to be so 
ordered as to secure the necessary solidity and firmness 
of the frame- work in order to avoid vibration. Steadi- 
ness in its movements had to be combined with perfect 
accuracy in the finish of all its multitudinous parts. 
Such are, indeed, requisites in every kind of complicated 
machinery, especially lace frames, most of all a ' Levers' 
frame, as will be plain when its present construction 
and powers come to be described. 

This new conformation of the bobbin net frame was 
due to Mr. John Levers, originally a frame smith 
and setter up, of Sutton-in-Ashfield. He removed to 
Nottingham, and extended his operations to the con- 
struction of point net and warp lace machinery. The 
specification of Heathcoat's machine having, as we have 
seen, become well known to the artizans of Nottingham, 
and the success of John Brown's traverse warp giving 
a great stimulus to similar efforts, hopes were indulged 
that they might be carried on without incurring the 
penalties of legal contravention. To this object Levers 
devoted (it is said, but without any evidence, conjointly 
with one Turton) his mechanical genius and skill. These 
proved to be very great, as was shewn by the extra- 
ordinary results. His labours were carried on in a 
garret at the top of a building situated in a yard on 
the northern side of the Derby Road; and so quietly 



272 THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

and secretly as not to be seen by any one, even of his 
own family. The carriages and bobbins, things which 
had presented so much difficulty to Mr. Heathcoat, with 
some of the other inside parts, had been made as thin as 
was requisite by a relative, Benjamin Thompson, an 
extraordinarily clever workman in metals, who will be 
afterwards further spoken of. He never was permitted 
to see the machine in progress, but was the first, except 
the constructor, to witness its completion. Levers had 
no son ; but two brothers, and a nephew John. All 
worked afterwards with him, and the nephew always 
stated they saw the frame for the first time when it was 
ready to work. They found it to be eighteen inches in 
width, waiting for materials and prepared to start : which 
it did without difficulty. The entire isolation of the in- 
ventor during this process was a remarkable fact. Levers 
had expended his available means in the lengthened 
experiments and necessary expenditure incurred during 
the years 1812-13. The house of John Stevenson and 
Skipwith, carrying on a lace business in Nottingham, 
was induced to furnish the funds required for producing 
more machines ; upon what terms is not now known. 
There were built by him for them another 18-inch, a 
27-inch, a 36-inch, a 45-inch, and two 54-inch machines, 
Levers retaining the first 18-inch for experimenting 
upon. These were worked in a shop on their owner's 
premises in St. James's street. It is probable that the 
then existing patent rights on the one hand, and the 
profits daily realized by Levers and his patrons on the 
other, were the reasons why no patent was obtained 
to secure what was new in his method. For it seems to 
have been a prevailing notion amongst the mechanicians 
of the time, that a patent must be taken out for all the 
machine, and not (as this might have been) for any 
parts or combinations only which were really new. 
This single tier at first became known under the name of 
" Stevenson's frame ;" but has been long and universally 
called the " Levers' single tier" machine. John Levers, 
the nephew, worked in the 45-inch. The well-known 
John Farmer worked about 1814 with another hand in 
one of the 54-inch, each taking five-hour shifts, the 
machine working twenty hours a day. The production 



THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 273 

was four pieces of ten racks each weekly. The wages 
were 5s. a rack for some time, i.e. 10, or 5 each 
workman a week. There is no difficulty in under- 
standing the origin of night-work in the lace manufac- 
ture, when such wages as these could be earned, and 
no doubt well afforded by the price of the article. 
After some time the workmen were reduced to 4s. 6cL 
a rack ; but on an attempted reduction to 4s. they all 
turned out. This was a serious affair for the employers, 
as from the complexity of the hand movements required 
by the machine in its then comparatively crude state, 
none but highly skilled workmen could make net. 
Moreover, four of them, Levers, John Farmer, Dann, 
and Young, united to build a machine from memory, 
and completed one, which they jointly worked on their 
own account ; but certainly not to advantage as com- 
pared with the amount of wages they had left behind 
them. 

Some of the bobbins and all the carriages in these 
six machines were stamped out by B. Thompson. 
Heathcoat describes in his specification the process he 
adopted to get the sides of his bobbins perfectly flat 
and true. B. Thompson employed one very similar to 
it. Two half circles of very thin brass were placed 
within each bobbin fitting exactly the inside ; they were 
put on an arbour passing through the centres, and were 
screwed together very tight, and heated until the arbour 
shewed a bluish tint ; from which, on gradually cooling, 
the inside half circle plates were removed. The bobbins 
came out perfectly flat, and capable of turning without 
friction or accident in the carriages. This, in Levers' 
machines, where often thirty carriages and bobbins must 
safely work together edgewise within the space of an 
inch in width, is evidently a matter of first importance. 
B. Thompson, who was a frequent companion of J. 
Levers, and quite able to perform any such kind of 
work satisfactorily, no doubt supplied the springs also, 
in the tempering of which he was very adroit, as also 
the guides. His uncertain habits however seem to 
have rendered further aid necessary. Mr. Anthony 
Shepperley, then a watchmaker in Chapel Bar, and 
having workshops in Woodland Place, was employed 



274 THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

by Stevenson and Co. to make a part of the bobbins, 
turn the verges, put in the springs, and finish the 
carriages. The pieces being so short, John Farmer 
recollects a new set of larger bobbins and carriages 
were obtained from Shepperley, but they got from these 
only eleven instead of ten racks in the piece. 

Having invented this new and admirable plan of 
constructing a lace machine, and succeeded in placing 
it and himself tinder the wing of those whose interest 
would be sure to promote its use, and which at that 
time they could do to an almost indefinite extent, this 
was Levers' great opportunity prosperity and wealth 
lay before him, but he missed them. For what reasons, 
or under what circumstances the connection between 
Stevenson and Co. and Levers was dissolved, is not 
certainly known. After it ceased, he worked in an 
upper shop in the higher part of St. James's street. It 
was there, that in 1817, he altered his machines from 
the horizontal to an upright position, and built many 
of them yearly. As nothing is heard of pecuniary 
supplies from any external source, it is fair to conclude, 
that the means he employed were derived from profits 
resulting out of his late connection. The horizontal 
position of his first machines, along with some other 
peculiarities of construction, had no doubt been adopted 
in order that they might assume as unlike an appearance 
to the patent ones as possible. Those he now made 
upright were probably sold at once. If he worked any 
on his own account, those who knew him well, say, 
the produce would necessarily be sold as it came off 
the machines. 

He is described by one who saw him almost daily 
for years about this time, and his testimony is con- 
firmed by others who knew his habits and character, 
as having been a friendly, kind-hearted man, and a 
great politician ; fond of company and music and song, 
being himself band-master of the local militia, in which 
also one of his brothers was a member. His domestic 
relations did not conduce to his comfort; his wife was 
not a helpmate, and unhappily for his progress and 
fame, he was himself a free-liver and irregular in his 
application to business. He sometimes worked day and 



THE LEVERS MACHINE. 



275 



night if a mechanical idea or contrivance struck him, 
and would then quit all labour for days of enjoyment 
with chosen boon companions. He was then living 
in Elliott street, New Radford, next his shop, from 
whence, on some improvement in his fortunes, he 
migrated to a better house opposite. At this period, 
he was frequently heard to say, that the machine he 
had constructed was only in its infancy, because of the 
great facilities it afforded for alterations and improve- 
ments. The success consequent upon the exercise of his 
talents shewn in his machines actually at work, (which 
from his known want of steady application through 
self-indulgence had surprised many), shewed there was 
no reason now to doubt his capacity to mature and 
perfect his great discovery. He seems, however, to 
have attempted but little in that direction. He knew 
that by his skill he had helped to extend widely the 
manufacture of twist lace, and this appears to have 
satisfied him. By his invention, he was in reality 
greatly assisting to lay the foundation of the machine 
lace trade, the annual English transactions in which 
have at times amounted to 5,000,000, and of which 
the share arising from the adaptations of Levers' 
beautiful machine, has not been less than 3,000,000 
a-year. By the exercise of self-command, energy, and 
even a moderate amount of ambition, Levers' advance 
to eminence and fortune was inevitably secure. But 
stimulants at the work-bench by day, and each evening 
the acknowledged supremacy amongst his brother 
mechanicians and politicians, stole away his incomings 
and energies together ; so that he was not unfrequently 
without a sixpence, and had to borrow the money 
wherewith to purchase the next morning's supply of 
food for his family. 

Levers entered after a time into an engagement with 
Messrs. James Fisher and Co., the particulars and 
duration of which are not known to us. He went to 
France in 1821. Mr. Ferguson, jun., says, but certainly 
without any real foundation in the facts of the case, 
" driven thither by Heathcoat's monopoly of the 
bobbin and carriage ; Levers and his son and nephew 
(his brothers) being peaceful men, and more musicians 

T2 



276 THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

than lawyers. They went to Rouen, where they set 
up their machines, by the aid and on account of the 
late M. Le Forte." He seems to have taken up his 
abode finally in that city ; paying only occasional 
visits to Nottingham. It is confidently stated by his 
relatives that he died there (and not in Nottingham, as 
stated by Gr. Henson), in what year or in what cir- 
cumstances we cannot ascertain. The almost entire 
forgetfulness in which his memory is now enveloped, is 
suggestive of mournful reflections in regard to the last 
days of one so highly endowed with talents, and so 
deficient in the self-government, necessary to a wise 
and profitable improvement of them. 

Levers seems to have trained his brothers to the 
construction, setting up, and management of lace 
machinery. They remained in France, and it is be- 
lieved in Nottingham that they died there. 

John Levers, his nephew, was the son of Joseph, 
a machine-smith, at one time in Fisher's service. The 
father brought up his son to his own business, and 
having, as before stated, worked in one of his uncle's 
newly-invented machines, he proceeded to make them 
too. This business, particularly after his uncle went 
to live in France, he seems to have pursued with con- 
siderable success ; as at one time he believed himself to 
have gained 7000. Perhaps this might be an extreme 
estimate, founded on the supposed value of his interest 
in machinery a very fatal mistake, nowhere more 
common than in the hosiery and lace trades, from the 
great prices paid for it when new. However, in 1821, 
when thirty-three years old, he remarked, upon finishing 
a new house, " I am worth just about thirty-three hundred 
pounds." " This sum," he is stated to have " embarked 
as his share of capital in a partnership, under the firm 
of Fisher and Levers. Trade soon after declining, 
stock and machinery lessened in value, so that in a 
few years his capital vanished, and his interest in that 
business ceased, by an unexpected dissolution in 1832, 
and he never really looked up after." While a partner 
there, he took a patent out, No. 5622, in 1828, to give 
machines on circular comb principle a rotary power 
action; and in the same year, No. 5741, to put Levers' 



THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 



277 



machines on with the like rotary power. Also in 1830, 
No. 5940, for a rolling locker to the Levers' machine. 
These three were the first of the long list of patents, 
in which Mr. Fisher had an original or acquired interest 
in connection with the lace trade. 

Levers, jun., took out with Pedder in 1835, No. 
6778, a patent for improvements on the pusher machine. 
He died at Nottingham in 1837, in poor and dependant 
circumstances. His brother Robert was a foreman for 
several years at Messrs. Fisher's factory till 1847. 
Since then, the name of Levers has disappeared from 
the English trade. 

It seems that one of the family, who went to reside in France, 
and is called John Levers, jun., constructed a rotary self-acting 
Levers' machine, having two extra catch bars with hook pushers to 
divide the carriages and a plate bar with nicks cut in it by which the 
divided carriages were kept steady by the pushers. Bailey's plan 
let them slip. Louis Paul Le Forte obtained a patent for this plan 
in England in 1823, No. 6423. 

The Levers' machine is by far the most delicate, 
its inner parts working in the smallest space, and re- 
quiring the most careful adjustment and finish of any 
amongst those bobbin net frames which are principally 
used. It is therefore, when prepared for fancy work, 
the most expensive in its construction. This will readily 
be understood by the following description of one offered 
for sale while we are writing : Besides the parts neces- 
sary to make the net, this machine, 153 inches wide 
10-point, has 80 top bars, 400 bottom bars, 54 threading 
beams, and a Manchester Jacquard to enable it to 
produce silk ornamented laces. Thus constructed, it 
admits of such alterations of meshes, fine work, thick 
threading, and every kind of breadth patterns, parti- 
cularly narrow ones, (all being of late years regulated 
and controlled by the Jacquard apparatus) that this 
class of machines cannot be too highly regarded for 
its usefulness. 

Being now worked by power, Levers' machinery, 
though it has become very wide and ponderous, does 
not require proportionate physical labour. But it neces- 
sitates great skill and attention ; and has, in consequence, 
ultimately given employment to the larger part of the 
most efficient workmen in the trade. The wages they 



278 TILE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

can earn are such as will maintain them in comfort, 
and enable them to bring up their families respectably ; 
giving them a fair education, and preparing them for 
taking their part in the battle of life. 

In constructing his machine Levers availed himself of all the 
essential parts of Heathcoat's machine. The bobbins and carriages 
are in shape nearly resembling those of the patent, though of half 
the thickness only and considerably larger in size. They perform 
the same functions ; are held by catch bars, entering into the nebs 
of the carriages which are pushed through the warps by stump bars 
and fetchers. In the act of traversing, one half the carriages were 
placed in the front bar, and the other in the back bar; they were 
then shifted sideways (shogged) one gait, and were then all brought 
into one line (tier) again. This arrangement is the chief ground of 
difference between the patent and Levers' machines. But from it 
there results much difference in construction and consequent adapta- 
tion for producing different kinds of lace. These will appear from 
the special uses to which this great class of machines has been put, 
and the efforts to improve and add to its powers which have to be 
noticed with as much brevity as is consistent with justice to so 
important a branch of the trade. 

Levers' machines are made as coarse as five-point and as fine 
as fifteen-point. A ten-point guage requires twenty warp threads 
to the inch to produce traversed net, i.e. when a full warp is wanted. 
In this there will be twenty bobbins and carriages in the inch single 
tier on the central comb bar. Besides these, in making fancy goods 
there will be thick threads moved greater or less distances sideways, 
according to the weight on each thick thread beam. Of these thick 
threads there may be forty or more in an inch. Where there is no 
net in the ground there will be no warp. The lace is produced in 
that case simply by the gaiting (shogging) movements from side to 
side of the thick threads, and the twisting movements of the 
bobbins and carriages to and fro as they pass through and around the 
thick threads. The machine will make eighty or a hundred of these 
backward and forward motions in a minute with their complement 
of relative movements, or about one inch in length of closely woven 
lace, the whole breadth of the machine, however wide, each minute. 
The guide bars are placed in the lower part of the body of the ma- 
chine, and occupy in comparison with their number a very limited space ; 
the warp and thick threads are passed through orifices pierced on 
their polished surfaces, and there may be fifty or five hundred of these 
bars, each guiding exactly to the right or left its complement of 
threads as governed by the cards of the Jacquard at the end of the 
frame. The bobbins and carriages are driven at the speed described 
" through this maze of tight and, for the most part, very fine cotton 
twisted threads, or even still finer untwisted silk filaments in the 
spaces of one-tenth to one-twentieth of an inch, according to the 
guage, working side by side clear of each other and of the threads 
through which they pass ; and which threads have all between each 
movement of the carnages been themselves moved one-tenth to one- 
twentieth of an inch, so as to vary the particular intervals through which 



THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 279 

the carriages pass. Were that side movement in the least irregular, the 
threads would be cut down, and possibly the machine itself seriously 
injured. 

The above description shews the necessity for perfect 
solidity of frame-work, steadiness of movements, pre- 
cision in form, finish and adjustment of the wheels that 
give motion to these thousands each of combs, points, 
guides, pierced guide bars, carriages, and bobbins 
including their very springs and nibs. These springs are 
seemingly trifling things, but are of major importance, 
and must be of proper temper, setting, and operation for 
the making of good lace. All these parts have to work 
in perfect harmony with and obedience to the Jacquard, 
which controls all the movements in the course of the 
pattern. These are too quick to be followed by an 
unpractised eye, and the quantity produced may be 
thus judged of. The machine, from the working of 
which the above description was taken, was 144 inches 
wide; and was making 144 one-inch black guipuire 
silk edgings. It had produced 2000 dozen yards in the 
week, selling at 2s. 9d. a dozen, or 275, which, if con- 
tinued through a year, and allowing for discounts, 
stoppages, and holidays, would result in an annual 
return of 13,000 from one machine. The chief points 
in management of such machines in a factory are 
seeing to the drafting patterns, perforating Jacquard 
cards, applying them to the requisite bars in the ma- 
chines, and then superintending the production of the 
required quality and quantity of work. If to this be 
added the efficient control of workmen qualified to deal 
with such costly and delicate machinery, it will be seen 
that the responsibility devolved on these superior work- 
men is a serious one. The proprietor has to decide the 
prior question of what the pattern shall be, and after- 
wards the quantities of any one pattern which such 
rapid machines may be permitted to produce. To these 
last two points more and more importance must be 
attributed, in proportion as competition and fashion 
are developed in lace. 

Many had failed in attempts to make breadths on 
the Levers' machine; at length, in 1823, John Bertie 
and Richard Biddle succeeded in doing this, 



280 THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

By breaking out three combs and cutting out one half the comb 
in each side, having a whole comb and two half combs coming over 
them, in the act of traversing these combs and half combs were made 
to snog back, and thus left the piece divided. They were joined 
again by bringing up extra warp threads to interlap in the carriages 
in the instrument called a ' turn again.' This method, since improved, 
was used extensively. 

In 1824 breadths were made by Jacob Woodhouse 
on the three carriage plan. 

In 1827, Roe of Radford, Robinson and Widdowson 
of Basford, and Bertie, were still engaged in these 
Levers ' turn again ' breadth improvements. This year 
a rotary Levers' traverse warp machine was constructed 
by William Barnes. 

In 1829 a rotary motion Levers' frame was con- 
structed by Bailey of Leicester, in which the carriages 
instead of being pushed to division in traversing are 
drawn back by hooks. This was first essayed by Bryant 
in making Brussels lace. 

In February, 1831, William Sumner, of Hose in 
Leicestershire, took out a patent, No. 6070, for pro- 
ducing bullet hole open work on Levers' principle. 

By which extra ' turn again' bars, pusher, comb, and point bars 
are made to shog and to perform the various movements of a non- 
traversing machine. The spring of the right-hand traverse carriage 
was made tight, the left-hand carriage opening slack. 

This method once employed six hundred machines. 
A list of them was sent to Mr. James Fisher, who de- 
clined at first to pay the inventor an agreed sum for 
the assignment of the patent, but afterwards paid it. 
Sumner then required interest. During the delay, 
traverse laces were superseded by straight down Levers' 
goods, and the method is almost forgotten. 

In 1834, Bertie and Gibbons patented, No. 6621, an 
apparatus applied to the Levers' frame for looping each 
alternate warp thread at the close of the hole to the 
bobbin thread making four distinct twisted pillars and 
two looped instead of traversed closings of the mesh. 

This was effected by adding stumps fixed on levers, revolving in 
a comb bar and slaie, which levers, operated on by the pins of an organ 
barrel cylinder, and by pushing the warp threads sideways, prevented 
them from looping, leaving large holes, which could be made larger 
fit pleasure by the alteration of the cylinder. 



THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 



281 



This looped net has been extensively made; and 
when controlled by the Jacquard cards, an elegant but 
inferior article is produced. 

Another article, first made for Messrs. Frost, Notting- 
ham, and called f fender' net, from its being a mesh 
simply twisted like fenders or wire fire-guards, was 
made on Levers' frames, in 1829, by Gr. Fox, of Radford, 
and lay dormant for twenty years. Having but two 
sides twisted and four sides eacli formed of a single 
thread, it looks exceedingly light and airy, and when 
of silk stiffened, very brilliant. It will not bear washing. 
It has been brought into very extensive use during the 
last twenty years, under the name of Mechlin, both in 
cotton and silk net. In making the latter kind there 
are about three hundred machines at work. A twenty- 
quarter wide frame will produce so much of this silk 
net, as, when stretched and stiffened ready for sale, 
would cover two thousand square yards weekly, or 
twenty acres of ground annually. It is now chiefly 
made on the circular rotary machines. 

In 1832, John Langham, of Leicester, obtained a 
patent, No. 6348, for a rotary arrangement of the Levers' 
point bars having common pushers. Bryant and Harvey 
produced straight down square net from 5-point Levers' 
frame for curtains, garden nets, &c. It is said to have 
been the first machine on which this class of lace goods 
was made. 

In February, 1835, T. Allcock, of Worcester, took 
out a patent, No. 6764, for a new kind of Levers' 

In which, catch bars and other parts for moving carriages are put 
on a camel or general carriage moving on trucks on a circular frame. 
On these trucks the catch bars ride on axles, and rise and fall on an 
inclined plane ; the catch bars slipping, and not dropping, into the 
nebs of the carriages. The whole propelled by a fan segment. 

S. Sansom, in 1836, made square net on Harvey's 
plan, but without any point bars. A similar method 
has been used at Calais, invented by M. Saille, having 
extra laps at the close of the hole. 

Blomer made Levers' Grecian net by extra bars and 
extra beams, which was superseded by blonde. This 
plan cost Mr. Thornton a large sum. in perfecting it. 

In 1837, R. White, of Bobber's Mill, took out under 



282 THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

Mr. Foote's auspices, No. 7473, for Levers' open work, by 
inserting thick stumps between warp threads to let two 
carriages pass between the warp threads instead of one. 
It was superseded by straight down nets. 

In 1841, William Shepherd made Levers' tattings 
by shooting in thick threads in devices. There were 
double the number of points in each point bar, and the 
twist was taken up at each time of going through the 
threads ; laying a foundation for making many excellent 
fancy articles. He went to Lisle. 

Davis, of Nottingham, made tape edgings, spots, 
weavings, and other devices. 

By breaking out main guides, and substituting extra guides 
soldered on iron plates, so that a number of bars might pass the 
guides, shogging each time the carriages went through the warps. 

About 1840 many experiments were being made upon 
the Levers' machines. A square net was made by simply 
interlacing the bobbin and warp threads, as also an 
octagon hole blonde. Saille, of Calais, thus made it, and 
Sansom readily imitated it. On the Jacquard being 
introduced, laces of any pattern were thus made by 
operating on the warp threads. A new era seemed to 
have begun. The pusher bars used in Levers' machines 
were taken off; the carriages were kept always in the 
same combs not traversing ; the interlapping of threads 
being done by the warp alone. This mode became 
nearly universal in Levers' frames ; but the work is 
inferior except for laces that do not require washing. 
Wire grounds are however made by another method in 
which warp and bobbin are so interlapped and twisted as 
to hold out in width and against any ordinary friction. 

From this time also Levers' machines began to be 
worked by rotary power. Harvey, Bryant, Sansom, 
Preston, Langham, and others, were amongst those who 
took part in this great onward movement of the fancy 
trade. The improvement of the entire machine in 
speed and safety of working, followed putting it on to 
power. The carriages were secured from slipping off 
the angular hook pushers, thus avoiding smashes of 
carriages and combs. 

Hitherto also power machines had the carriages, one 
propelling and drawing the others; about 1840, Samuel 




THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 283 

Barton, of Sherwood, built a machine having carriages 
moving on circular combs in a single line and traversing 
by a double locker, saving the time of a long motion 
of two sets of carriages. 

Amongst what may be termed the l composite' ma- 
chines, in which have been attempted a combination of 
two or more of the principal methods, one was patented 
by William Henson, of Chard, in 1832, No. 6354. 

In this an upper set of carriages in single tier was propelled by 
rolling lockers. The lower set of double tier carriages traversed and 
worked in bolts, and were separated in the act of traversing by an 
edged plate coming up perpendicularly, acting as an under locker. 
The net was twisted and traversed by bent pins put in front and back, 
but were withdrawn and entered again at every third or traverse 
motion, the bent pins acting as guides. This machine was driven 
by rotary power. Henson proposed to make ten racks of 240 meshes 
each in length, in an hour. He made forty meshes in a minute, but 
never made a whole piece at that rate. 

In 1839, Mr. Oliver, of Basford, constructed an 
apparatus for making figured open and linen work on 
a Levers' machine. 

This was said to be effected by substituting two tiers of very large 
bobbins and carriages for the warp main beam, leaving each thread 
at liberty as to its tension, each large carriage and bobbin acting as 
a separate beam. These warp bobbin threads were said to be acted 
upon by stumps, which were moved by the Jacquard. 

This was an attempt at a mechanical pillow for 
making patterned lace. 

Heathcoat from the beginning had made every part 
of his machinery on his own premises. Not so any 
of the infringers in their first essays, though several of 
the most important soon did so. The success of the 
patent machinery at Loughborough, causing the increas- 
ing construction of bobbin net machines at Nottingham 
on Heathcoat's principles, was the signal for originating 
the twin handicrafts of the bobbin and carriage makers. 
For though at first they were carried on in conjunction, 
they soon became and still continue to a great extent 
separate occupations. Those who first undertook these 
manufactures as an independent business were generally 
watchmakers. Such was Mr. Anthony Shepperley, one 
of the first who added this to his regular business. His 
articles were of first class workmanship, and gained him 
a corresponding reputation and demand. 



284 THE LEVEES' MACHINE. 

It has been already stated, that in none of the com- 
ponent parts of the twist lace machine are excellency 
of materials and a perfect finish of more importance 
than in these, which compose the circulating system of 
the machine. Therefore the fine touch, trained sight, 
and habit of exact manipulation possessed by watch- 
makers were the best qualifications for and passports to 
employment in these departments. Anthony Shepperley 
is here specially singled out, because from the recollec- 
tions of his family several interesting facts have been 
obtained. 

After finishing the Levers' bobbins and carriages 
for Stevenson and Co. as already mentioned, Shepperley 
preferred to engage in making those for the straight bolt 
machines first constructed by Mr. William Morley. 
But notwithstanding an improvement introduced by 
Mr. Shepperley, tending to counteract the great defect 
in the working of straight bolts, by the application of 
a lever to the carriages, regulating constantly the 
amount of thread given off the bobbins in that class 
of machines, the circular comb quickly superseded them. 
He then began to make that description of bobbins and 
carriages for Morley and many others. The dishing of 
bobbins for circulars, was first done in the Nottingham 
district, at the instance and under the instructions of 
Mr. Morley. This reduced them in thickness and 
weight, while less labour was involved in making and 
finishing them. Amongst his numerous hands, Shep- 
perley employed several Germans. All, and amongst 
them his own son Mr. George Shepperley, Long Row, 
found the employment more profitable than that to 
which they had been brought up. For instance, Mr. 
George Tritchler, a German, one of these journeymen, 
left this shop with 1000 savings, on which his widow 
still subsists. Another overlooker, still living, an 
Englishman, left this occupation with a considerable sum, 
having to receive 60 or 80 at each settlement beyond 
the wages he had drawn. All were very highly paid, 
and many of the men were equally provident. But the 
greater part were not so. They dissipated the earnings 
of three or four days in riotous idleness and indulgence 
through the rest of the week. Songs, in celebration 



THE LEVEES' MACHINE. 



285 



as it were of this sort of saturnalia were composed, set 
to music, played by the band of the local militia in 
marching to and from parade, to which these jolly 
journeymen added their voices in a choral refrain 

"For we'll all go a bobbin and cairiaging, 

Oh yes ! we will go yes ! we will all go, 
"We'll go all together, a bobbin and carriaging, 
Hip, hip, hip, hip, hurrah!" 

The more their employers were pressed for their 
work, the less work would many of the men do while 
the fever lasted. All were very highly paid, and the 
profits of the masters were great in proportion. During 
several years the demand was so great, that it could 
not be supplied; the news of such wonderful wages, 
independence, and jollity, spread like wild-fire ; so 
that speedily, machine- smiths, lock-smiths, and black- 
smiths, together with every watch-maker who had a 
wandering or adventurous spirit within fifty or eighty 
miles, came together in the garret workshops, ex- 
temporised in every quarter of Nottingham. In the 
case of many of the machines then contracted for 
at fabulous prices, cash was paid down in whole or in 
part for them, and yet they never could be made to 
work, or only after more still was spent upon them 
than they were worth when done. So in regard to 
bobbins and carriages, orders were given for unnumbered 
sets, and thirty or fifty pounds paid in advance, without 
any guarantee or even enquiry as to whether the 
recipients of the money understood, or had ever seen a 
bobbin net machine at work in their lives. There were 
well authenticated instances, in which such consummate 
assurance on the one hand, and infatuation on the 
other, were found to be literally true. No wonder then, 
that such inferior articles were made by inexperienced 
pretenders to the art, that if the other parts of machines 
constructed after the expiration of Heathcoat's patent 
in 1823, were made so as to do their duty, the sets 
of bobbins and carriages were often unworkable. So 
much was this the case, that to get an order taken by 
the really competent and honest maker, bank notes 
would be laid with the order on the desk, as an induce- 
ment to execute it. All the good makers reaped a 



286 THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

great harvest in those three or four years of excitement. 
Since then the business has settled down into a moderate 
rate of wages and ordinary profits. Messrs. Thornton 
and Aulton became large and excellent makers of 
Levers' bobbins and carriages, deriving like Mr. Shep- 
perley and his successor, considerable and well-earned 
gains from the all-important fact that their articles 
might be relied on. 

The following estimate was drawn up in 1836 from the information 
then and previously collected, as to the numbers employed in the 
various collateral branches of business in constructing machinery in 
the Nottingham trades in 1825 and 1835 respectively: 

1825 1835 

Master smiths . . . 80 30 

Journeymen .... 400 150 

Master bobbin and carriage makers 50 15 

Journeymen .... 250 140 

Smiths privately employed . . 300 100 
Guide, pusher, bolt, comb, point, hook, 7 

and slaie makers 5 

Needle makers, turners, casters, wood- ) _ ?n 
work makers, setters up, &c. ; 



Totals 1500 520 

Each of Heathcoat's first bobbins (or wheels) con- 
taining the threads working diagonally, was pressed 
upon by a small tongue of steel placed on each side of 
the carriage, and acting as a spring to regulate the 
amount of thread given off in crossing and in twisting 
round the warp threads, Plate IX. fig. 2, thus making 
the sides of the mesh and crossing, and consequently the 
shape and size of the entire meshes as regular as possible. 
Upon the attainment of this, in a great measure, the 
whole face of the article, as to its beauty and use, must 
depend. To equalize the force with which these springs 
act on the bobbins throughout their whole range, and 
along the length of each thread as it unwound itself, 
were great points to be attained ; and even with these 
first inconveniently placed springs they were in good 
measure realized (Plate XIV., No. 15). But the process 
was difficult and tedious. The shape of the carriages 
was soon improved in all kinds of bobbin net machines ; 
allowing a spring to be attached to the upper part of each 
(Plate IX. fig. 3), at the unattached end of which was 



THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 287 

pointed nib, which just enters between the sides of the 
bobbins at their outer edges ; and while it keeps them 
steady, regulates by its pressure on the periphery of the 
bobbin, the giving off of the thread. These springs 
are adjusted to each other by an easy process, but one 
requiring care. When filled with thread and placed 
in their carriages, these threads are taken into one 
hand, and the carriages and bobbins lifted up and 
slightly shaken. As the weight of thread in each is 
equal, those carriages in which the springs are too weak 
descend lower than the greater number, and those too 
strong do not fall low enough. Each are separately 
eliminated, and their springs are bent or straightened 
accordingly, till the whole set are equalized. To whom 
the invention of this valuable spring, now universally 
used, is due, is doubtful. It is said in a communication 
inserted some years since in one of the Nottingham 
newspapers 

"We believe the idea of fixing the spring on the edge of the 
bobbin was suggested by John Irving, but he could not execute it. 
After experimenting for twelve months at considerable expense, 
"William Skelton, of Brick Lane, Nottingham, succeeded in perfecting 
the small nibs which enter between the sides of the bobbins, and thus 
enables them to hold double the quantity of thread, being made 
double the thickness, but occupying the same room. Such was the 
importance of this discovery that, to use the words of Mr. Heathcoat, 
now M.P. for Tiverton, ' the man that perfected and made that spring 
was the founder of the bobbin net trade, and not me,' as without it 
the pieces could not have been made of sufficient length to have 
established the manufacture." 

As Henson makes this statement verbatim in his MS., 
and from internal evidence, there can be no doubt he 
wrote the article. G. Henson felt some prejudice 
against the patentee on what account can only be sur- 
mised. He speaks of the l Old Loughborough,' the 
patented machine "as merely an ill constructed, intri- 
cate combination of other men's inventions, too difficult 
and slow ever to work to profit, and nearly disused." 
The facts are all against this highly coloured statement, 
and as is in evidence by inspection of the sample of his 
net sworn to in 1813, given in Plate XIV., No. 15, it will 
be seen that more perfectly regular net cannot be made 
by any machinery now, than that which was made by 



288 THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

Heathcoat while using his first spring. Therefore the 
trade is not founded on the discovery of the new spring, 
though that is in many respects a great improvement. 
It is merely incredible that Heathcoat should ever have 
thus expressed himself in this matter. The article 
concludes by asserting " that had not Skelton produced 
the spring, there would have been no bobbin net pro- 
duced." The writer knew or ought to have known that 
it had been produced years before, and of excellent 
quality. 

William Skelton was originally a shoemaker, but 
early turned his attention to making the smaller imple- 
ments used in hosiery and lace manufactures, and which 
required great care and precision in their finish. He 
appears to have understood and could explain well the 
intertwining of threads and formation of meshes in 
foreign laces ; therefore was consulted as to the way 
to get out in machinery these difficult reticulations. 
Benjamin Thompson often stated however, in Skelton's 
hearing, that the spring and its nib were his (Thomp- 
son's) invention ; as also that the mode of tempering 
it was his discovery ; and Skelton on such occasions 
acquiesced in the claim. Thompson, it is asserted by 
his son, gave Skelton the plan, who being a clever 
workman, made them so well as to take and maintain 
the lead for their sale for a long time, during which it 
was his principal means of existence. The case may 
have been thus : Irving devised the spring only ; 
Thompson tempered and gave it the nib, and, as they 
were companions, handed it to Skelton, whose position 
seems to have been a precarious one at that time. He 
was the first to apply the spring with two opposite nibs 
to the pusher carriages, and gained largely by them, 
others for a long while being unable to compete with 
him. He nevertheless died a few years ago in humble 
circumstances at Nottingham. 

The name of Benjamin Thompson has occurred 
several times in previous pages, and we cannot pass 
on without giving some account of so singular a 
person ; one, who during the first quarter of this 
century was universally known to the mechanical world 
in Nottingham, and not much less so to the men of 



THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 280 

scientific note then resident in this district. He was 
born at Groby, in Leicestershire, and apprenticed to 
a chemist in London by a rich maternal uncle, who 
liberally supplied him with the needful resources. 
When out of his time he became acquainted with the 
elder Dolland, then in humble circumstances, after- 
wards the celebrated optician. From this intercourse 
he was enabled to make some considerable progress 
in the practical application of more than one of the 
natural sciences. He left London from some unex- 
plained cause, thereby displeasing his uncle, and was 
cast off by him. He found his way to Nottingham, no 
doubt drawn thither by the then well-known skill of 
the machine-smiths and other artificers, who found good 
employment in the two staple trades of the place. He 
married the niece of Mr. John Levers, whose machine 
has been just described. Thompson's skill in handling 
tools, as well as making them, soon became noised 
abroad. We find him styled in various documents of 
those times, a brass turner, an optician, a maker of 
prismatic division lathes, and of various curious and 
useful instruments. From Dolland he acquired the 
knowledge how to make telescopes and microscopes. 
One of the latter of his make is now in use. Several 
of his turning-lathes are still doing their work per- 
fectly, though made fifty years ago. It is stated, 
on good authority, that he could smelt, fuse, and purify 
his metals ; turn in wood, iron, brass, and ivory ; grind 
the object glasses, make the slides, put the parts together, 
and finish an optical instrument. He constructed a 
machine for slicing wood and plants for microscopic 
observations, dividing off some thousands of sections in 
an inch. A flute was required by the Prince Regent for 
presentation to another royal personage. The musical 
instrument maker to whom the order for it was given, 
confided its execution to Thompson, who went to London 
and completed it to his satisfaction. 

With such an amount of useful knowledge and ex- 
traordinary handicraft skill, what might not Thompson 
have attained in such a time of mechanical effort and 
unlimited demand for the very class of objects he could 
best produce. He claimed to have made the first bobbin 



290 THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 

and carriage for Whittakcr. He certainly did so for 
Levers. Here was an opening- to fortune, too plain 
to be mistaken. He could help his acquaintances (and 
they included every maker and setter-up of machinery 
of all kinds, large and small) to devise and construct it; 
but disdained to benefit himself, or to bargain with 
them. 

He was employed successively on point net warp 
and bobbin net machinery, yet derived only a scanty 
income from them all, while others with less genius, 
stept on by paths open to everybody, to fortune and 
influence. Thompson was versatile, unstable, and self- 
indulgent; too independent of the ordinary laws that 
govern a really useful and happy life ; too desultory in 
labour to be depended upon for its punctual perform- 
ance however important ; he solved the difficult problems 
which were daily cropping up at that time requiring 
apt skill and a sharp eye very cleverly, when he could 
be induced to undertake them, gaining the credit for 
them while others took the reward. He had great 
but misdirected talents, and his careless habits were 
manifestly inconsistent with the comforts of home and 
^well-being of his family. He died poor at Nottingham, 
in the year 1825. 

From the recent interference of the legislature in 
the employment of women and children in lace factories, 
the following explanation is necessary to shew what 
they do as to these bobbins and carriages, which have 
been likened to the shuttles in weaving looms, inasmuch 
as they supply weft to the bobbin net warp. The 
machines by their own operations gradually empty the 
bobbins of thread. The bobbins are charged with 
threads drawn from drums, on which the materials have 
been wound by boys from the wooden bobbins, which 
have been just before filled with the yarn from the 
hank by girls. 

When these carriage bobbins, circular, flat, thin, 
and deeply grooved, are to be filled, the woman takes 
up as many as there are threads on the drum, and 
passes them by means of a square hole in the centre 
upon a revolving spoke or cylinder ; stretching the 
threads over the bobbins, she slips each thread into 



THE LEVERS' MACHINE. 291 

its corresponding groove. A few turns of a revolving 
machine going at great speed, fill the bobbins with a 
sufficient quantity of materials. The inferior qualities or 
errors in the size of cotton yarn or silk thread, shew 
themselves by the under or over filling of any of the 
bobbins. The bobbins when full enough are taken off 
the spoke, to be replaced by empty ones, over which 
the threads from the full ones are severally passed, and 
are then snipped asunder between the full and empty 
ones ; the full ones are laid aside and the new set filled 
as before. 

These full bobbins are next to be inserted, each 
into its thin steel-framed carriage, in order to its being 
carried with its thread to and fro, from back to front 
and contrariwise by the machine. This is performed 
by sharp-eyed young lads, with such rapidity and 
neatness of manipulation as looks very like legerdemain ; 
the bobbin fixed, the carriage spring adjusted, and the 
thread passed outside through a minute hole in the 
carriage top. When the springs are evenly bent, as 
elsewhere described, the carriages with their contents 
are ready for the machine. 

These young people, male and female, are now 
employed very properly only within factory ages and 
hours, instead of at hours in any part of the night, 
which was formerly the demoralising practice. As the 
sets of bobbins are necessarily emptied at uncertain times 
by the operation of making pieces, either there must 
be a double set of bobbins and carriages to each ma- 
chine, or the workman must take his turn in obtaining 
a full one. This is a small cost at which to secure the 
great benefit now enjoyed. 



CHAPTER XIX. 



THE PUSHER BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

THE PUSHER machine was constructed first in 1812, 
by Samuel Clark and James Mart, assisted it is said by 
Joshua Roper, all of Nottingham. As contrasted with 
the patent machine of Heathcoat 

The carriages containing the bobbins were pushed by long in- 
struments through the warp threads ; which bobbin threads were 
drawn off downwards and the net thus formed below was carried 
to a work beam also in the reversed position. The carriages were 
only held on short combs by the tension of the bobbin threads. An 
important difference exists between the double tier circular machine 
and the pusher. In the circular, pairs of bobbin threads with their 
carriages must necessarily act together; they cannot be parted in 
operation and effect. Whereas in the pusher, every bobbin and 
carriage being each operated upon by an independent pusher just 
as wanted, can be obliged to proceed in any direction desired, or 
remain at rest. Thus cloth work can be made more uniform and 
clear. 

While this machine possesses some special advantages, 
it is costly and a delicate one in work. The pieces 
made on this plan are short, the bobbins not holding 
much thread. This was nevertheless a clever modifica- 
tion of the original machine. 

Pusher cotton and silk nets with excellent fining 
clothwork are finished by needle embroidery passing 
thick threads around and through the finings and open 
work ; so that cushion-made fancy goods, such as shawls, 
veils, berthas, &c., are closely imitated by articles 
obtained from this machine. In making the ground, 
fining, and open works on the machine for one such 
article, five thousand cards may be required. Mr. 
Vickers and Mr. Reckless have been and still continue 
eminent in Nottingham for their successful use of pusher 
grounds, as also for the superiority and execution of 
their designs. The pusher imitation of Chantilly lace 



THE PUSHER MACHINE. 293 

nearly approaches the real article. A flat appearance 
is all that serves to distinguish its mechanical origin. 

In 1814, Clark and Leonard Elliott made breadths 
by extra pusher bars to let the carriages rest on the 
traverse motion, with extra beams to sew the threads. 
This net sold for double the price of wide plain net for 
several years. 

In 1820, an improvement was made to the pusher by 
Joshua Crowder, John Day, and Richard Seymour, of 
Nottingham, and Francis Moore, of Radford 

By adding a tie-bar to pusher-bars and making them act together. 
Thus instead of the pushers driving half of the carriages into the 
back combs and coming again for the other half thus making a blank 
motion, the half tier was taken to the back and returned and the 
other half taken and returned in like manner, which being thrice 
repeated reduced the motions from twenty-four to fourteen. 

These persons sold their method to the trade, and 
received for it promissory notes, which were ordered by 
an injunction not to be circulated. After several years' 
litigation they obtained a verdict, but their attorney 
dying, they never received the value of their notes. 

In 1821, Kirkland and Cooper moved point bars by 
wheels instead of treddles. 

In 1823, a pusher circular machine was brought out 
by John Day, of Nottingham, and John Lindley, of 
Tottenham. Also Henry Mayfield introduced another 
mode of working it. 

In 1825, Mart and Day constructed a circular pusher, 
in which the carriages were grooved and rode on short 
bolts to prevent their falling off. The plan did not 
succeed. 

In 1828, the improved pusher machine was taken to 
Lisle by Clark, to Paris by Bonington, and to Calais 
by Rayner. 

In 1829, John Synyer, Sneinton, by extra wheels and 
pusher bars, and letting the carriages rest at traverses, 
when single formed by it a bullet hole ; when changed in 
the next hole, it formed Grecian net. 

In 1830, Skevington, of Loughborough, by turning 
a spindle on cams, got increased speed and safety on the 
old patent Loughborough machine, and intended the 
plan to be applied to the pusher machine also. 



94 THE 1'UtiHEK MACHINE. 

James Pedder, of Radford, contrived, in 1832, an 
apparatus by which two sets of eccentric wheels moving 
at different speeds produced ornamented lace. In this 
method a thick gimping thread was placed by using 
long extra guides ; spotting, by stumps pushing warps 
to prevent a traverse ; linen cloth work, by breaking out 
certain main guides and inserting extra guides ; net or 
other plain work, by cutting wheels suitable for each. 

John Bell, Nottingham, made open works in required 
patterns on pusher machines in 1838. These might be 
different in each breadth if desired. He used an ap- 
paratus to answer to the draw-boy in the weaving loom. 
Also, in the same year, Day and Forgie applied the 
Jacquard and draw-boy to this frame. Forgie was a 
cloth weaver by trade. 

He applied a long lever pusher to each carriage ; but when open 
work was to be made, it was raised and missed the required carriage 
leaving a hole in the web ; which once repeated and changed to 
the next carriage made Grecian net ; if further repeated it produced 
a still larger mesh or open work; cloth work could not be made 
and the plan failed. 

In 1839, James Wright, of Radford, applied cylinder 
Jacquard cards to pushers, adding them to Forgie's 
process in order to make cloth work ornaments. The 
carriages were traversed at every motion. This plan 
caused a large demand for black silk laces, since partly 
superseded by goods made upon Levers' Jacquard 
machines. 

John Lindley, jun., resided in the first part of his 
business life at Loughborough, where he made point 
net lace. After assisting to improve that class of 
machines, he spent much of his time, from, about the 
year 1798, in endeavours to produce twisted and tra- 
versed bobbin net. This he did at first, it is probable, 
alone ; and is described as fastening his pocket comb in 
the slit of a table top, and using the teeth as points, 
from which to hang a series of cotton balls ; arid by his 
finders twisted the threads, after the manner of the 

O 

pillow workers. He thus made a small piece of irregular 
shaped net, two or three inches in width. This on 
being shewn to his uncle, C. Lacy, the latter declined 
to patronise it. If, as has been asserted, he knew and 



THE COMPOSITE BOBBIN NET MECHINE. 

had intercourse with Whittaker, who had not yet gone 
to Loughborough, it was most likely some years after this 
period. Blackner says, his next step was made in 
1799, by the construction of a small set of bobbins 
worked on a singularly rude machine, on which was 
made a small portion of something like the present 
bobbin net; and at length this was followed in 1811-12 
by another machine also entirely constructed by himself. 
This was upon the single tier arrangement which had 
been adopted and laid aside by Heathcoat, but success- 
fully carried out eventually by John Levers, and known 
by his name. It made traversed net of twelve inches 
wide. There was one dividing bar (cut by T. Kerry) 
and guides (made by Rudd). Mr. James Fisher and 
Mr. Charles Lacy saw it, and they said they expected 
great results from it. The former took all the work 
made upon it in its rough state, giving 1 per lineal 
yard as its price. 

Lindley's son, then a youth, wound the thread upon 
the bobbins in his play hours, and thus earned his first 
watch. Why the frame was thrown aside is not stated 
by his son, who furnished some of the foregoing parti- 
culars. The model of it was in Lindley's possession in 
1828. Guides and carriages used in it were placed in the 
Nottingham Exhibition in 1840, but unfortunately the 
opinion of Mr. Sewell, who examined them, cannot now 
be obtained. The author did not see and therefore is 
unable to describe them. The invention by Levers 
and its extensive adoption, was probably the reason 
of this machine not having been continued in use. 
The circumstance of Lindley's endeavour to make lace 
before Heathcoat' s patent, and his subsequent use of a 
bobbin and carriage, does not throw any light on the 
claim put forth for Lindley as the inventor of these im- 
portant and ingeniously combined instruments ; nor on 
Whittaker and Hood's proceedings ; nor does it affect 
Heathcoat's claim to originality. They were all at 
work close to each other ; but how far Lindley had then 
progressed is not now known. G. Henson gives 1809 
as the date of the invention of this machine; on what 
ground does not appear. It is certain that the son, who 
states 1811-12, must have the best knowledge of the year, 



296 THE COMPOSITE BOBBIN NET MACHINE. 

for he says " the construction took place in the chamber 
in which I usually slept, but often could not, by reason of 
the inharmonious jangling of my father's operations." 

John Lindley, afterwards being in connection with 
Charles Lacy (partner in Heathcoat's patent), took out 
a joint patent, September, 1816, No. 4063, for a machine 
in which were combined the peculiar systems of the 
Levers' and traverse warp machines, and to be worked 
by a rotary power movement. It was unhappily an un- 
profitable effort, and resulted in ruinous consequences 
to its projectors in regard to the business they were 
carrying on at Tottenham in Middlesex. The separate 
machines sought by them to be made of combined use, 
were found by the trade each to have its special adapta- 
tion and value. The expence of constructing the 
machines on this new plan was enormous at that time 
and at that distance from Nottingham, and it failed by 
this and the delicacy of its organisation to secure 
adequate results. Nevertheless it contained the bold 
idea of working the lace frame by rotary power action ; 
and which, through some mechanical arrangement or 
other, has gradually been introduced into every depart- 
ment of bobbin net, warp, and even hosiery machinery. 
The direct result of this invention of Lindley's was 
disastrous to him ; its indirect influence was highly 
beneficial to the lace trade. 

In this machine the carriages were very long, and 
the bobbins were placed at one end of them, while the 
entire series of meshes across the machine was com- 
pleted by six movements only. To describe, in a 
popular manner, the thousands of instruments employed, 
and the peculiarly diversified operations whereby they 
are made to co-operate, seems impossible. The plate 
given in the specification, shewing a front elevation of 
this machine, is a great curiosity. It may be called an 
outline portrait of mechanical genius ; which, contrasted 
with the picture of Lindley making his first effort at 
meshing lace, by using his pocket comb and cotton balls, 
cannot fail to astonish these who doubt what a self- 
taught mind can accomplish ; and will cause deep 
regret, that in this, as in so many other instances, 
such a severe course of mental labour, directed by 



MESHING MACHINE LACE. 297 

practical, though in this instance misdirected skill, 
should not have met with its commensurate reward. 

Mr. Lacy embarked in this invention with the patent 
and machinery, the very large sum which he had 
realised under Heathcoat and Lacy's patent, and spoke 
of applying for an Act of Parliament to authorize secrecy 
of the methods employed under the patent, and so secure 
the expected benefits entirely to themselves. The idea 
was characteristic of the man. He was loud in his lamenta- 
tion over the change which supervened in the position of 
their affairs ; Lindley, a clever and of course greatly 
disappointed mechanician, knew how to carry his mis- 
fortunes with modesty into an unrepining retirement. 
An examination of the specification and drawings, de- 
scribing how the more intricate parts of machines so 
widely different in construction, are made to work 
together in subjection to inanimate rotary power, will 
furnish ample evidence that Lindley very nearly attained 
a position in the first rank of our local inventors. 

The art of meshing has been spoken of above as one 
in which Tarratt, Heathcoat, and Lindley engaged in 
connection with their efforts at mechanical lace con- 
struction. This is a science of no small importance, 
which has been investigated, and in some considerable 
degree acquired, by every one who has made any im- 
portant advances in the manufacture of lace, whether 
in the construction of machinery, or its application and 
use in the production of almost endless varieties of 
ground-works and designs. It has been the study of 
lace patentees, from Morris in 1780, down to the 
present time. In the case of several of these, curious 
instances of its value and of their facility in its use, 
are on record. 

It consists in a careful examination and study of the 
different classes of pillow lace ; ascertaining the number 
of threads used, and their several courses, in the forma- 
tion of every kind of mesh ; the number and order of 
twists, plats, weavings, and crosses, which are formed 
with each pair of threads ; the fine-works, open-works, 
thick threads, points, and pearls, which go to make 
up the texture of each class Mechlin, Brussels, Alen9on, 
Valenciennes, Lisle, Bucks, or Honiton. 



298 MESHING MACHINE LACE. 

This information is necessary to be gained, in order 
to be fully aware what is to be done by the machine, 
so that imitations, more or less perfect of any of these, 
may be obtained from it. And this, always taking into 
account that the mechanical progress of the work is 
not by dealing with merely single pairs of threads as 
on the pillow, but by forming thousands of twists, plats, 
or crosses at once, and, that there can be no actual 
retrogression, every movement is one in advance. A 
thread cannot return at all, though some may for the 
moment be held stationary; but each and all must 
proceed onwards, if at all, with the continued action of 
the machine ; and the effect of this upon mesh and 
pattern must be calculated upon, and subordinated 
accordingly. 

Persons who have applied themselves to this kind 
of investigation, so as to become familiar with its 
details, will follow out and master the intricate courses 
of these threads with surprising ease and accuracy. 
They get into the mind a full and clear idea of what 
they wish to accomplish, and thus can proceed to 
invent, adapt, or add to, a machine ; having, by a 
peculiar mental process, carried on almost involuntarily, 
often in the dark, and not unfrequently in bed, seen their 
way to contrivances, modes of construction, and opera- 
tions that lead, often it is true, by a round about way, 
to the desired result. It is thus that the mesher obtains 
an accurate knowledge of the thing to be produced; 
is enabled to devise means requisite for its production, 
and how he must apply them to the machine, so as to 
make them effective. 

This habit of analysing the component parts of 
things to .be produced, and the means best adapted 
for effecting them ; of mechanical powers and their 
action, of separating and casting aside the superfluous, 
and securing the aid and effect of that alone which is 
necessary, has distinguished the crowd of acute, self- 
taught mechanics, who have within the last century, 
applied their talents to the staple trades of the three 
midland counties. Its incessant application has issued 
in the wonderful inventions and scarcely less surprising 
improvements now witnessed in its machinery, In the 



MESHING MACHINE LACE. 



J99 



search after speed, exactness of imitation of real lace, 
and variety of designs, they relieved themselves from 
obstructions unknowingly laid in their way, by the 
want of foresight or of mathematical skill on the part 
of the original inventors, or of those who from time 
to time have introduced changes in these mechanical 
operations. 

There were no inherent advantages to be gained, 
by uniting the lever and traverse warp plans in one 
machine. They are each composed of very delicate 
instruments, working in most confined spaces, and in 
very different ways. In this attempt, Lindley therefore 
made a serious mistake. But in carrying it out, he 
much simplified the functions of each of these plans ; 
so that motions of Heathcoat's original machine to 
which they owe their common origin were at length 
reduced in Lindley's machine to six. The reduction of 
working parts must have been equally great, for every 
motion requires a mechanical agent to effect it; take 
away the necessity for the motion, and the part requisite 
to its performance disappears. 

The steam power, which Lindley was the first to 
apply, has been found to be a vital necessity; and in the 
processes of separately adapting the two kinds of machines 
above-named to rotary motion, they have been found 
capable of still further improvements. So long as these 
efforts were confined to the production of plain, i.e. 
unornamented nets, though of meshes of very different 
constructions, the skill of the mechanician was directed 
to dealing alike with the course of the threads com- 
posing the meshes forming the entire set from side 
to side of the machine, and was carried into effect by 
varying or simplifying its ordinary movements. It was 
by the practice of clearing needless parts away, which 
has been described, that room was made in which to 
place the additional instruments for making the almost 
perfect imitations of real lace, which the exigencies of 
the trade brought into use, as will be further indicated 
while describing the progress of the manufacture. 



( 300 ) 



CHAPTER XX. 



THE GASSING, BLEACHING, AND FINISHING OF LACE. 
MH. SAMUEL HALL. 

THE rapid developement of the hosiery and lace 
manufactures of the midland district had a correspond- 
ing effect upon the collateral operations of bleaching, 
dyeing, and finishing yarn and wrought goods. By 
the application of practical chemistry considerable ad- 
vances were made, whereby fast bright dyes were im- 
parted, and nearer approach secured towards French 
colours and finish. Thus the houses of Keely and 
Windley laid the basis for their well-earned success and 
property realized in that department. By the like spirit 
of research in the sister arts of bleaching and finishing, 
great improvements were effected ; amongst others by 
the house of Robert Hall and Son a name which has 
thus become identified in an especial manner with the 
staple manufactures of Nottingham. 

Mr. Robert Hall, the father of Mr. Samuel Hall, 
lived at Basford, near Nottingham. In the early part 
of his life, passed during the latter portion of the last 
century, one of his businesses was that of spinning 
cotton yarn for hosiery purposes. Afterwards he spun 
a mixture of cotton and animal wool, into what is called 
angola yarn, a useful article extensively consumed for 
stockings, possessing a medium warmth between cotton 
and worsted hose. He was a scientific man, who if 
he did not discover, was one of the very first to use 
chloride of lime in bleaching, which was another 
department of his affairs. The benefit resulting from 
this improvement has necessarily been very great in 
the hosiery and lace manufactures, where cotton goods 
to the amount of several millions sterling per annum 
have been for the last forty years submitted to this 



THE FINISHING OF LACE. 301 

process ; by it goods winch would under the old plan 
have required to be retained a month in process, can 
now be well and soundly bleached in two days. This 
Mr. Robert Hall was an estimable man and a good 
citizen. His ideas on several subjects were peculiar 
and somewhat ahead of his age. By his love of scientific 
researches and experiments, he gave an impulse to the 
minds of two eminently gifted sons, Samuel and Marshall 
Hall. These received a liberal though not a profoundly 
learned education ; and each, following out the natural 
bias of his mind, copying also their father's example of 
free and ardent enquiry, entered upon a diverse but 
remarkably useful career in life. 

The younger son, Marshall, was born at Basford. 
Entering on the medical profession, he received a sound 
training in the general hospital at Nottingham, then 
practised for a time at that town, but soon transferred 
the exercise of his professional talents to London. There 
he became the celebrated Dr. Marshall Hall, to whose 
profound physiological researches are owing discoveries, 
especially that of the duplicate nervous systems, highly 
appreciated by medical authorities, and which have 
conferred lasting benefits on mankind. 

The second son, Samuel, was also born at Basford. 
He was engaged from his youth with his father in 
the spinning and bleaching businesses, and also was 
early initiated into his chemical and mechanical in- 
vestigations. There was a patent taken out by the 
father (it was his only one) in 1813, No. 3675, for 
machinery to be employed in dressing and finishing 
frame- work-knitted goods. Samuel Hall, when once 
embarked in these scientific discoveries, pursued them 
with unwearied diligence. Success never satisfied him, 
and disappointment never cooled his ardour; with a 
mind always on the utmost stretch of activity he gave 
up the pursuit after improvements only with his life. 

His first effort was an eminently successful one, 
and also of an entirely practical character. All woven 
fabrics composed of threads of animal wool, cotton, or 
silk, however carefully spun, have on their surface more 
or less of rough hairs, floss, or fibre which are unsightly 
when lying on the surface of printed cloths or other 



302 THE GASSING, BLEACHING, AND 

stuffs ; but in gauzes, nets, or other fabrics intended to 
be semi-transparent, they are positively detrimental to 
their use. Mr. Samuel Hall must have often noticed this 
in the course of his business of spinner and bleacher, 
especially in the case of warp point net, and at length 
in twist cotton lace ; to seek for a remedy would be 
therefore very likely on the part of so inquisitive a 
mind. 

The floss on the surface of cotton cloths is usually 
singed off by passing the pieces with an uniform 
velocity over red hot cylinders of iron which burn off 
the loose fibres, the cloth proceeding too rapidly over 
them to permit of injury to it. 

To remove this disqualification from cotton yarn and 
lace, so materially affecting their value, and consequently 
their use and the extension of their manufacture by 
machinery the subject of this memoir devised and took 
out two patents, both of them under date November 3rd, 
1817, Nos. 4177 and 4178, securing the use of a very 
ingenious apparatus and process, whereby in the former 
the fibre of thread, and by the latter of cloth or gauze, 
or lace, may be singed off by being caused to pass 
through delicate blue Sanies of carburetted hydrogen coal 
gas, drawn to the height of half an inch or so up to or 
through the web intended to be cleared, by means of a 
vacuum above. The processes by which cotton thread 
and woven tissues are gassed are substantially the same. 

At Plate IX., fig. 8 

A represents gas flame issuing from a pipe through numerous 
orifices. B a row of threads or web of cloth or net drawn uniformly 
along with the requisite velocity to prevent its catching fire while 
passing through the flame. C the section of a kind of chimney, cap, 
or vessel, running the whole length of the horizontal tube, and 
terminating in the tube D; through the connection of which with 
an air pump of great power worked during the whole process, a brisk 
current of air is kept passing over the inflamed gas. The consequence 
is that the web to be cleared (gassed) from fibre presses rather 
forcibly against the bottom of C and the flame is cut off without 
passing through the web of cloth, but singes off the fibre only on 
the side exposed to it ; if of lace or yarn the flame passes all round 
the threads and through the meshes, destroying the fibres on the 
surface, but without injury to the substance. 

There is a second tube placed about a foot from the former in 
which are similar openings for gas to be emitted ; through which also 
when lighted, the threads or web are to be passed by means of rollers, 



FINISHING OF LACE. 



303 



and thus the process is completed. Stop cocks and valves are so 
placed as to regulate the emission of hydrogen gas, and the exhaustion 
of the covering above it. 

This difficulty of cloudy, rough surfaces on nets and 
yarns, once thought insuperable, has thus been removed 
effectually by a very simple process, resulting from 
a priori reasoning on the principles of pneumatical 
chemistry applied to the special requirements of the 
case on hand. 

In 1823, No. 4779, a further patent was taken out 
by Samuel Hall for improvements in the gassing frames. 
And its present adaptation is so accurate and complete, 
that though mainly entrusted to the hands of women and 
children, and in the case of thread, the yarn operated 
upon is to form exclusively warps for the finest and 
most delicate fabrics, which, if too much singed, would 
be made tender and worthless, yet the result is generally 
perfectly sound and satisfactory. 

Up to this point in Mr. Hall's course of invention, 
he had the practical skill of Mr. Benjamin Thompson, 
(elsewhere more fully spoken of) at his command, to 
assist in carrying into the most perfect operation the 
novel suggestions of his own fertile brain. Hall devised 
the plan of gassing without doubt; it is equally certain 
that Thompson's knowledge and skill were employed 
on executive details. 

Hall took an extraordinary method of making his 
invention known, by very widely exhibiting its actual 
results. He made an arrangement with a lace house 
in the Strand, and advertised under their name of 
Gr. F. Urling and Co., the patent gassed thread and 
lace, causing specimens of these articles themselves to 
be placed beneath the advertisement in each copy of 
several of the then popular magazines. Thus he was 
one of the first to introduce the system of advertising 
on a large scale, since so generally and successfully 
followed in regard to business matters. These notices 
served to spread more widely the knowledge of patent 
bobbin net arid to increase its consumption. 

When this patent was obtained in 1817 there were 
about 700 bobbin net machines at work; in 1820 there 
were 1008; the average of the first five years to 1822 



304 THE GASSING, BLEACHING, AND 

was about 1000, of probably six-quajters m width, and 
making 200 racks weekly, taking three racks to the 
lineal yard. The charge for gassing lace was three 
farthings per square yard for some years. As nearly all 
the trade had their nets gassed, i.e. about 5,000,000 
square yards a year, the amount of Mr. Hall's income 
from this source might then probably be from 10,000 
to 15,000 a-year. The inducement to infringe became 
very great. Cyrus Boot, and others, did so under colour 
of patent rights for singeing by other processes, but they 
proved illegal and fell to the ground, after putting Mr. 
Hall to serious expense and otherwise causing injury 
to his interests. 

As was to be expected, Mr. Heathcoat being the 
bobbin net patentee, held himself and by his connections 
machinery producing nearly half the total amount made ; 
and as they gassed all they produced, had paid Mr. Hall 
during the first four years several thousands annually. 
On their part and on his own, the patentee offered to 
enter into an arrangement to pay 5000 a-year to Hall 
during the remaining term of his gassing patent, or for 
so long as he maintained the then price for gassing and 
kept down infringement, in compensation for the right 
to gas all the nets produced from their machinery 
then constructed. This was immediately declined. Mr. 
Heathcoat was sensible that he had been benefitted by 
the publicity Hall had given to bobbin net; though 
without the bobbin net invention Hall's would have had 
much less chance of success. Believing, therefore, that 
he was making a proposition calculated to be profitable 
to both parties, he declined to receive a refusal from 
Mr. Hall without the latter taking due time for con- 
sideration. The following morning Mr. Hall gave a 
final negative, on receiving which Mr. Heathcoat adop- 
ted the alternative of selling all his production without 
gassing the nets. This he continued to do for several 
years, and thereby no doubt reduced the quantity of nets 
sent by the rest of the trade to be gassed. Probably 
Mr. Hall never dreamt of such a resolution, or if he had 
would not deem it possible to be really carried out. By 
this mistake, arising from his over confidence and 
characteristic impetuosity, he sustained a very serious 






FINISHING OF LACE. 305 

diminution in the profits he would otherwise have 
realized by this patent. As it was, it could not be justly 
affirmed that he was an unrequited inventor. To this 
charge lately made it was no doubt truly replied that 
Mr. Hall gained at least 50,000 to 60,000 clear profit 
by this gassing patent. The increase of the trade and 
its machinery was so rapid that in 1826 there were 
2469 bobbin net machines, and 4,500 at the expiration 
of Hall's patent in 1881. The superior character of 
lace and other fine fabrics when gassed was more and 
more recognized. Mr. Hall also gave numerous licenses 
to use his patent in Lancashire, Scotland, France, and 
elsewhere; so that altogether he realized a considerable 
income to its close. By this patent he established his 
position as a successful man of science in its application 
to manufactures. He had conferred a most important 
and lasting benefit upon the lace, muslin, and gauze 
departments of business. 

In 1821 he took out a patent, No. 4559, for another 
successful discovery, also beneficial to local and some 
other important trades, and useful in domestic life. This 
was the bleaching of starch employing a chloride in its 
preparation, by which its quality and colour were so 
improved, as to give the substance thus treated prece- 
dence at that time and long after over any other starch 
used in the finishing of many kinds of goods for 
sale, and in getting up of linen and cotton articles in 
the laundry. In consequence, however, of the paten- 
tee engaging himself largely at that time, and, indeed, 
through all the rest of his protracted life in experiments 
and improvements (of the utility and value of which he 
never had the least doubt) on land and marine steam- 
engines, generation of a new motive power, and the 
consumption of fuel and smoke he, with extraordinary 
indifference to ordinary prudential considerations, gave 
this lucrative patent into the hands, and to be used for 
the advantage of his third brother, Mr. Lawrence Hall, 
then lately returned from abroad ; to whom it became 
the foundation of a large fortune. Ever since, and up 
to the present day, the public sees advertised "Lawrence 
Hall's Patent Starch." The name of the scientific in- 
ventor and munificent donor was thus ignored even while 



306 THE GASSING, BLEACHING, AND 

he lived ; and we are not enabled to record that when 
affluence vanished, and declining years supervened, any 
adequate return was made for so generous a gift. Mr. 
Samuel Hall seemed constrained by the very constitution 
of his being, to invent or perfect inventions without inter- 
ruption, and at whatever cost. Except to supply means for 
the prosecution of these incessant self-imposed laborious 
experiments, he did not know the value of money. He 
could neither husband present resources, nor provide 
for the future. But of this, the too frequent defect of 
men of genius, he appeared to be unconscious. Thus his 
latter years were overshadowed by a sense of wrong 
shewn to himself. Mr. Hall was naturally of an ardent, 
sanguine, enterprising temperament; indefatigable, un- 
daunted by failures, and undismayed by difficulties. 
He was kind, hospitable, and cheerful amongst his 
friends, shewing no hesitation in communicating all he 
thought or knew or felt to those, and they were many, 
who enjoyed his society. After forty years of personal 
intercourse and correspondence, we gladly pay our 
tribute of respect and admiration for talents and services 
of which Nottingham may well be proud. Mr. Hall 
died lately in London at an advanced age. 

The following patents, combining an amount of in- 
genuity and usefulness seldom exhibited by any one 
individual, being foreign to the special subjects of this 
history, are enumerated without further details, simply 
as an act of justice to the memory of this prolific 
inventor and remarkable man : 

In 1824 Mr. S. Hall took his first patent, No. 4985, for an 
inprovement on the steam engine. No. 5659, in 1828, was for an 
apparatus for generating steam and various other gases. No. 6204, 
in 1831, was for a steam piston and valve, lubrication of valves, 
condensing of steam, and supplying water to boilers. No. 6359, 
in 1833, for lubricating pistons, rods and valves; condensing steam 
by a vacuum and a mode of condensing for other purposes. No. 6556, 
in 1834, for a super-heating steam engine which if of twelve-horse 
power stands in only fifteen feet of cubic space. In this engine 
he augments oxydation by burning gas, and connects with it an 
apparatus for decomposing water; and proposes by this engine 
with no increase of cost in fuel to get nearly treble results in power. 
No. 7135, in 1836, steam engine for propelling vessels. No. 7754, 
in 1838, method of heating or evaporating fluids in generating steam. 
No. 8233, in 1839, method of propelling vessels. No. 8792, 
in 1841, and No. 9345, in 1842, were for improving consumption 



FINISHING OF LACE. 



307 



of fuel and smoke. No. 10531, in 1845, improvements in boilers, 
furnaces, and flues of steam engines; in consumption of fuel and 
preventing smoke also in mode of propelling vessels. No. 12527, 
in 1 849, apparatus for regulating combustion of fuel and burning the 
smoke ; and prevention of explosion of steam boilers ; by constantly 
passing fuel into the furnace on an endless revolving chain platform 
as it may be needed. No. 13444, in 1851, for manufacturing starch 
and gums. No. 14125, in 1852, for the improved construction of 
cocks, taps and valves. 

Cotton lace, after going through the processes of the 
machine, has acquired a colour much darker than that 
natural to the wool : but bleaching restores the article to 
a perfect whiteness, by scouring and the use of bleaching 
liquid, &c. A piece is often returned soundly bleached 
within twenty-four hours after delivery; is forthwith 
dressed, finished, and received in London or Liverpool 
the next morning. Messrs. Manlove and Allcott, bleachers 
of Nottingham, patented a drying machine, by which, 
instead of being wrung or pressed and hung up in a hot 
room to dry, as is the usual mode, the article being 
wrapped round in a kind of coil between two copper 
cylinders, the outer one of which is perforated with 
holes, the apparatus is made to rotate perhaps a thousand 
times in a minute, so that by the centrifugal force thus 
obtained the water is quickly driven out from the damp 
article inclosed, through the holes of the cylinder, and 
left nearly dry. This valuable invention is already 
applied with very important results in manufactures 
greatly diversified the one from the other. 

The dressing of lace, so as to fully extend the meshes 
to their proper shape, and by stiffening the fabric prevent 
its collapse, is a most important operation, and of course 
requires care and experience on the part of the class 
termed dressers, of whom there are about thirty-three 
having extensive premises in or near Nottingham. 

It is performed, first, by passing the bleached or 
dyed and purified lace pieces through a hot mixture 
of gum and starch with other materials, and then sub- 
mitting the lace to the action of revolving cylinders 
which squeeze out the surplus stiffening fluid : this is 
the work of a man and a boy usually. Second, the 
piece in a wet and heavy mass is taken to the stretching 
room which extends from forty to one hundred and 



'508 THE GASSING, BLEACHING, AND 

twenty yards in length, and is wide enough usually to 
allow of two frames being placed at a sufficient distance 
to be worked side by side. On the sides of the rooms 
as many large windows as possible 'are placed, chiefly 
for ventilation. The heat required is great, seldom 
under eighty degrees, it is often much more. These 
frames run nearly the length of the room. Upright 
rows of pins are placed along the edges, the selvages of 
the piece are run on by girls on each side and at the 
ends. The sides of the frame are made to recede from 
each other by the operation of a winch, and the lace is 
gradually extended to its full width ; the utmost care 
being taken not to disturb the mesh either in length 
or width. On this point will absolutely depend the 
quality and saleable value of the article. Strict atten- 
tion has also to be paid to the amount of dress in regard 
to stiffness and weight, if for single, double, treble, or 
even quadruple stiffness; and as to colour, clearness, 
crispness, and elasticity, on which particulars, together 
with the peculiar ingredients used, have depended the 
preference which was so long given to French over 
English dressing of plain silk nets. Third, to secure 
freedom from small blotches of stiffening and impurities 
clinging to the meshes, the pieces are lightly and care- 
fully rubbed with flannels to equalize the stiffening and 
then beaten by switches or rods as they are distending ; 
and to promote rapid drying and the consequent clean 
face and elasticity in hand of the dressed article, the 
piece when fully stretched is fanned with broad spade-like 
implements, which being properly waved about produce 
powerful currents of air. Fourth, while one piece is 
drying on one frame, another will be in process of 
putting on and stretching out on another. When finished 
each is carefully rolled up as it is stripped from the pins 
and folded preparatory to its being sent to the finishing 
warehouse ; where, the selvages having been placed 
exactly even in rolling off the dressing frame, it will, 
if a wide plain piece, be cut up without unrolling, 
into suitable widths for sale. 

The length of the daily employment of young women 
in these dressing rooms and its effect on their health, 
has lately been the subject of enquiry by a Government 



FINISHING OF LACE. 

Commissioner. The labour and heat are no doubt trying 
to those engaged ; they are also usually careless of their 
own health and the means of preserving it when ex- 
posed to cold and wet in going to and from their work 
in our variable climate, having had but little domestic 
care or training bestowed upon them. It is possible, 
and much to be desired, that in the progress of chemical 
and mechanical inquiry and experiment, means and 
agents may be discovered which shall render the drying 
process in dressing innocuous, and the atmosphere in 
which it is carried on cool and healthy. 

The business in chemicals and dye stuffs for bleachers 
and dyers, in starch, gum, and other materials used for 
dressing, has necessarily become very large. A piece 
of cotton net, weighing in the unbleached state 151bs., 
will increase in proportion to the dress required, so that 
if ' Paris' dressed it will become 60 Ibs. weight, and the 
edges will cut through the skin like a saw. All nets 
for foundations of bonnets and similar purposes are 
thus weighted and stiffened. Such articles have been 
enormously used in this way, but are subject to the 
fluctuations of fashion, or the rise of the materials used, 
and consequent advances in price which may lessen or 
destroy their consumption. The mere disuse of ' cur- 
tains' to bonnets, lowered the returns of one finishing 
lace house some tens of thousands of pounds in one 
year. 



( 310 ) 



CHAPTER XXL 



IMPROVEMENTS IN DOUBLE TIER LACE MACHINERY. 

BEFORE proceeding to notice several other modifi- 
cations of importance, it may be premised that there 
were many references to Mr. James Sneath in the 
discussions upon the traverse warp trial. It was 
asserted. Brown and Freeman finding they could not 
complete their design, sought his aid, and perfected 
it by his skill. On this account further particulars as 
to himself and his connection with Brown and Freeman 
have been sought out. 

James Sneath was a frame-smith and setter-up, living 
in Mansfield Road, Nottingham. His employment at 
first was chiefly amongst point net frames, but as they 
declined, the use of warp machinery increased, and 
he entered upon its construction. His acquaintance 
with the principal makers was the origin of his 
association with Brown and Freeman in 1811, and 
thus becoming practically acquainted with the con- 
struction of the lately invented twist lace frame by 
Mr. Heathcoat, through its specification which was 
early in their hands. No doubt the smithing for their 
travestied imitation was done in James Sneath' s 
shop in Coalpit lane, which will account for Brown 
and Freeman's disappearance from Radford. In addi- 
tion to the constructive skill Sneath himself pos- 
sessed, the next neighbour to this shop was James 
Tarratt, a good mechanician, who was at this time 
a frequent visitor. It is not improbable he also might 
aid in getting the difficult problem solved. The sur- 
prising character of the traverse warp machine, and 
the comparatively short time occupied in its inception 
and completion, however it may have been brought 
about, must still appear a mechanical marvel ; but the 






mm 









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^^^-.^'^^r.^^v^.M^^.^^^ja^ 




MR. JAMES SNEATH. 



311 



surprise is lessened, if it were the result of the combined 
skill derived from these three sources operating on the 
materials furnished by the patented machine, with the 
assistance of one at least of the Loughborough work- 
men at their deliberations. During the time the con- 
struction of this imitation of Heathcoat's frame was 
going on, Sneath told Timothy Richards, that he 
thought he should master its being made different to 
Heathcoat's frame. 

Upon the completion of the traverse warp machine, 
and a number being made, Sneath went with them 
to Warwick on Mr. Nunn's account, was there in 1813, 
and remained there some years in the management of 
them. From thence he removed to Croydon, where 
he assisted William Sneath in an unsuccessful attempt 
to make a platted net machine. 

It had a set of warp threads on a Learn ; and a set of bobbin 
threads on a bar operating in some way like the carriages in the 
present twist machine getting a twist by two motions. Further 
than this the movements are now not known; the particular result 
and cause of failure however was, that while one half the work was 
of a regular twist and plat, the other half of the breadth shewed 
a rough surface as if made of single yarn, the reverse movement 
of the bobbin and carriage bar having untwisted the threads. 

From Croydon, James Sneath went to a small 
factory at Bleak Hills, Mansfield, where he placed 
and worked bobbin net machinery. He died there 
a few years ago much respected. 

Having risen by his steady industry, combined with 
mechanical skill and general intelligence, to a respect- 
able position in society, he brought up his family 
comfortably, and gave them a good education, fitting 
them for the discharge of the duties of life an example 
that might and ought to be more generally followed 
by artizans of every class. 

Mr. William Sneath, above referred to, was born at 
Linby in Nottinghamshire, about 1800. He was taught 
by his father to work in the warp lace frame. When 
two and four course net, with blonde and Mechlin from 
warp frames, had nearly gone out of use, Sneath, 
sen., John Kendall, Henry Leavers, and Cockayne, 
with James Sneath, jun., often met to talk about 
machinery. It was thus William Sneath got into the 



1312 IMPROVEMENTS IN LACK MACHINERY. 

twist net trade; for Kendall and the others were 
early connected with it. Soon after Heath coat left 
Loughborough, William Sneath went there to overlook 
Linthwite's machines. They were ' old Loughborough's,' 
and he made an improvement which helped to continue 
their use for some time. Returning to Nottingham, 
he purchased a circular bolt machine, and in 1831, 
invented the plan which had never before this been 
effected on any machine, of producing spots, ' Points 
d' Esprit,' on the circular comb system. 

He selected spotting carriages to lap for the spot, letting the main 
body of carriages remain stationary, retained by pickers, while 
the spotting carriages were propelled backwards and forwards by 
driving bars, having three extra point and hook bars to take up 
the spot. 

Mr. John Hind at first took a share of the respon- 
sibility in bringing out a patent, No. 6208, for this 
invention of great and permanent importance. Spots 
of wattled basket work add to the value of many 
cushion laces ; they are too beautiful and useful ever 
to go out of fashion. On J. Hind relinquishing his 
share of interest in the patent to Mr. Fisher, with 
William Sneath's consent, it was agreed " that each 
should build twelve spotting machines in succession ; 
and that after these twenty -four, for which neither was 
to pay tribute, all constructed beyond during the patent 
should be built by or pay tribute to Mr. Fisher." Thus, 
William Sneath's interest in his invention, was that 
derived within the patent-right from the profit of work- 
ing twelve machines. The profit resulting to Fisher 
was very considerable indeed. One Mr. Pearson took 
the plan to Calais, and also gained, it is said, a large 
sum by it. 

Alter the above transactions, William Sneath con- 
tinued for some time in the manufacture of lace, but 
eventually took up his abode and died in the house of 
his son, Mr. George Sneath, a magistrate of Midhurst 
County, in West Canada. 

John Litchfield devised an arrangement for spotting 
on the Levers' machine. It was patented and disposed 
of to Mr. Fisher, who received tribute for its use ; but 
upon a contest with Mr. R. Birken (who produced spot 



MOELEY. 



313 



on Levers' in 1833), backed by many machine holders 
in the trade, the patent was rendered partially inopera- 
tive. Freeman, of Tewksbury, made a spot on traverse 
warp also about the same time. 

Mr. William Morley was an ingenious fitter and 
setter-up of stocking and point net lace frames in 
Nottingham. He began early in life to endeavour to 
improve the machinery in which he was employed, and 
which led him to introduce the use of a 5-bar tackle, 
or apparatus on the point net frame. Before the year 
(1811) closed, a simplification and consequent improve- 
ment upon his plan took place, whereby 3-bars were 
made to operate with equal effect ; and their operation, 
singularly enough, was performed by six different 
methods, hit upon by as many mechanics. The Mr. 
Kendall mentioned in connection with Mr. William 
Sneath, being already engaged in making bobbin net, 
was joined by Mr. Morley, who in 1812, constructed 
a machine known as the 'straight bolt,' from its differing 
from Heathcoat's, in which the carriages went back- 
wards and forwards in combs forming a segment of a 
circle, and therefore called the l circular comb.' Ken- 
dall and Morley's machine was an infringement of 
Heathcoat's. Though not an improvement as to the 
shape of the bolt or comb, it was so by the simplifi- 
cation of several other parts, by putting in spur selvage 
wheels, and in the mode of changing the carriages on 
reaching the selvages, which resulted in greater rapidity 
of movement. In consequence it was much used during 
a few years. 

Soon, however, Mr. Morley saw that the defective 
irregular net, resulting from the unequal length of 
thread drawn off upon his straight bolt plan, was irre- 
mediable, and he returned to the circular comb, from 
which it is singular that so clever a mechanician should 
ever have deviated, except for the purpose of dissimilarity 
to that extent from the patent. 

In doing this, a great improvement was made, by reducing the 
bolts from four shorter combs as in Heathcoat's frame to two longer 
segments of circles as at present in use. He used pusher bars below 
the circular combs instead of above them to carry along the carriages ; 
and nothing could be more smooth and regular than the movements 



314 IMPROVEMENTS IN LACE MACHINERY. 

under the impulse of double bladed lockers of the carriages and the 
amount of thread given off from the bobbins they contained. He 
put his machines thus improved upon rotary action and worked them 
by steam power. 

No modification of any importance in the manu- 
facture of plain nets, for which these machines are 
specially adapted, and to which they are generally 
applied, has since been made, nor is likely to be. The 
superfluous parts of the insides of the machines were 
taken away, and the speed was at once increased from 
three to at least four racks of 240 meshes each an hour. 
For these practical improvements the trade has been 
eminently indebted to Mr. Sewell and Mr. Morley. 
While meditating and perfecting his double locker 
rotary machine, the latter was observed to be unusually 
thoughtful and absorbed. He was never talkative, but 
now for a time he displayed unusual reticence. Notice 
was given for a patent in March, 1824, No. 492, but it 
was never specified. At length the plan became known, 
and was highly appreciated, as the one on which 
plain net must chiefly be made. He had quietly con- 
structed a large body of this machinery which brought 
to his house great profits forthwith, and his judicious 
and scientific management of hands and machinery, 
placed the firm at the head of the plain net manu- 
facturers for the Nottingham market up to the present 
time. The mechanical skill possessed by Morley was 
amply vindicated by this machine, and his technical skill 
is seen in the excellent description of it furnished by him, 
and inserted by Ure under the article " Lace" in his 
works. This writer's prejudice against Heathcoat, no 
doubt arising from Mr. Morley 's early chagrin on account 
of an injunction granted for infringement of the patent, 
is to be gathered from his withholding the merit of 
invention from the patentee, while it is given to several 
oil account of their modifications of the machine. 

The question of whether Heathcoat is entitled to 
the honour of being the inventor of the bobbin net 
machine or not, has been already discussed in these 
pages ; our present duty is to do justice to one whose 
talent lay emphatically, not so much in invention as 
in simplification a science which is, however, only 



I 

ME. THOMAS ROBERT SEWELL. 315 

second to that of the inventor himself. As was the 
case in eyery other instance of success in management 
of bobbin net machinery, Mr. Morley had the perfect 
confidence of his workmen. He understood the machine 
as well as the most experienced of his hands, knowing 
what could and what ought to be done, and the best 
way to do it. The men willingly obey such a leader, 
and only such ; and it has resulted, that amongst these 
machine hands there has arisen a body of skilled 
artizans, equal to any and superior to most, in the 
whole range of manufactures. 

Mr. Morley was a man of excellent common sense, 
plain in his manners and habits of life ; his great success 
did not unduly exalt him above those who started in 
a similar career with him, nor induce any perceptible 
departure from the simplicity and economy of his early 
days. He retired from his connection of thirty years 
continuance with Messrs. Boden's, of Derby, (by whose 
partners the business is still carried on) in 1853 ; at 
his death, which took place in 1855, at the age of 70, 
he was possessed of large property. 

Mr. Thomas Robert Sewell was almost an entirely 
self-taught artizan, having received only the rudi- 
mentary education given by respectable parents in 
humble life. He was born (about 1788) in or near 
Nottingham, and he improved every opportunity that 
place afforded him of obtaining general and more 
especially scientific knowledge, assiduously and success- 
fully. He soon became known and esteemed for his 
talents and the use he made of them. In process of 
time he acquired considerable skill in mathematical, 
chemical, and some other branches of science. But the 
chief bent of his mind was toward mechanics, which 
at that time opened up a field for study and enterprise 
of vast extent. He early acquired a knowledge of the 
construction of the stocking-frame and the point net 
loom. The net produced on the latter when compared 
with that obtained from its new rival, the bobbin net 
machine, he deemed so inferior in quality and beauty 
as to decide him to give attention to the manufacture 
of bobbin net, notwithstanding the secrecy maintained 
in regard to everything connected with it. Examination 



IMPROVEMENTS IN LACE MA< 

of "the net led him to think he could accomplish the 
task of constructing a machine to make it. He saw 
a bobbin net machine for the first time in 1818; and 
at first it by no means pleased him, not agreeing with 
the notion he had entertained of what a frame intended 
for such a purpose ought to be. He was erroneously 
given to understand that it was of the description then 
used by Mr. John Heathcoat, who had justly acquired 
great reputation as an inventor, and therefore purchased 
one capable of making net a yard in width in ten-point 
guage. A few only produced net more than 45 inches in 
width. For making this 36 inches net he paid the work- 
men 3s. per rack. He soon became dissatisfied with 
the machine in its then state. The movements were 
numerous and intricate, there being eight handles and 
two treddles necessary to effect them. When out of, 
order and a stoppage took place, the workmen would 
forget the next proper movement and mistakes were made, 
time was lost and the net wrought seriously damaged. 
The wages though apparently high, did not always give 
satisfactory weekly earnings. Having seen two straight 
bolts in process of construction upon an ingenious 
modification devised by Mr. William Morley, of Notting- 
ham, he considered the plan a great improvement, and 
purchased them. One was a 54-inch and the other a 
72-inch, the greatest width made up to that time. But 
this class of frames, even in the hands of Allen, Kendall, 
and Morley, at first passed the bobbins and carriages 
through the warp threads eight times or sixteen motions, 
when Sewell saw that six passes or twelve motions 
would suffice. He added the further improvement of 
shortening the ' take up' by the points. The machine 
though still requiring dexterity in the workman was 
reduced to four handles and two treddles, the speed 
was increased one-third, the wear and tear diminished, 
and the net improved. 

' Quillings' i.e. net in narrow widths, were now produced on these 
machines, but they had ' saw' edges. The extra warp threads 
used in wattling these breadths together pulled the bobbin threads 
which passed round them so much as when withdrawn, to leave 
a series of unequal and unsightly loops on the edges. These 
depreciated the value of the article greatly. A remedy was therefore 
sought for; and after much study Mr. Sewell found that the 'turn 



MR. THOMAS ROBERT SEWELL. 317 

again' used at the edges of the wide frame might be made to operate 
at any point or points in the width of the double-tier machines. 
By this process the two tiers were left complete, and the breadth 
selvage warp threads were laced together ; and being perfectly tight, 
when the lacing thread was withdrawn, the edges were without 
any loop or irregularity at all. This ' turn again' at pleasure wa8 
effected by introducing a compound driving bar instead of the plain 
one ; and it was so slit as to allow the lacing bobbins to fall out 
wherever that was necessary, and thus prevent them traversing with 
the rest. 

For secrecy this principle was first applied, in 1820, 
to a forty-five inch frame at the house of Mr. Kendall. 
Being successful, all their machines were put on with it. 
The plan has since been brought into extensive use, as 
by it double-tier machines can be made to produce 
elegant open works, the large holes therein having 
selvages formed perfectly on their inner sides. 

Mr. Sewell's next efforts were directed to still further 
simplify the machines and increase their speed. In en- 
deavouring to do this, he was led to entirely invert all the 
parts of the double-tier, placing the warp beam above 
and the work beam below, the bobbins and carriages 
being moved under the arched combs, whose inner 
circles faced downwards, instead of over them as before. 
To this inverted arrangement was added an improved 
form of the carriages, enabling the two tiers to be passed 
through the warp threads at one sweep instead of two, 
and that by using only one locker to drive them instead 
of two, and by this one operation doing this part of the 
work so as to more than double the speed. This machine 
was capable of producing four to five racks an hour; 
the straight bolt, as he had before improved it, made 
only two racks an hour. By adding a simple crank 
motion he put this ' upside down' machine on with 
steam power. 

Upon seeing these important changes, Mr. Kendall, 
whose partnership with Allen and Morley had ceased, 
proposed to Mr. Sewell to become his partner, which 
was agreed upon, and further machines of the newer 
kind were constructed. Mr. Morley had also proceeded 
to build 'upside down' frames, but without Sewell's 
simplified arrangement of parts. This accounted for 
the defective quality of the net made from them. But 
both these eminent mechanics agreed that the in- 



318 IMPROVEMENTS IN LACE MACHINERY. 

verted machine required too much care on the part 
of the workman in regard to securing equal tension of 
the bobbin threads. This was a matter of vital import- 
ance, which might be secured without the sacrifice of 
much speed, by a still more simple arrangement of the non- 
inverted double tier machine. Each of them set about it 
in his own way, and about 1825-6 both had accomplished 
it, by retaining the method of passing the two tiers 
of carriages through the warp threads at one sweep. 
The "upside down' machine had certain properties which, 
but for the Levers' frame absorbing the greater part of 
the fancy manufacture, would have most likely kept it 
in use for the like purposes. 

Upon a dissolution of partnership with Kendall in 
1831, Sewell erected a factory and constructed excellent 
circular power machinery at Carrington, upon which he 
made for many years three twist or t Brussels' ground 
net from fine yarns, suitable for the application of pillow 
wrought sprigs and flowers. Here also he arranged 
this class of machines so as to secure increased speed 
without depreciating quality. 

In his ' rolling locker' machine driving bars were dispensed 
with, and only a front and back locker bar used, which being 
moved by rack work and carrying both tiers of carriage tails, 
(fluted to correspond with the rollers), to and fro at one sweep, passed 
them through the warp threads with safety and great velocity. Some 
years after he patented, No. 6936, an improved 'turn again' including 
extra bobbins for embroidery in this class of machines. On the 
whole it may be doubted whether the wear and tear by weight, 
vibra,tion and friction, of the rolling locker when pushed to the 
enormous speed of which it is capable, may not prove a counter- 
balance to its profitable use. 

In 1841, by applying a straight bolt to each guide, 
and putting all under the control of the Jacquard, he 
produced patterns in wide nets in outline cloth works, 
ticking them on the edges, and throwing in beautiful 
open works so as to give light and shade, and produce 
a rich effect. He drew all his own patterns, many of 
which were in excellent taste embodying ideas derived 
from his careful study of the enrichments in Greek 
architecture. This modified machine was exhibited by 
him in 1851, and being purchased by the Prussian 
government, was put to work by him in the public school 
at Elberfeld in 1852. 



MR. THOMAS ROBERT SEWELL. 



319 



Mr. Sewcll made on his tliirteen-point machine a 
beautiful net, in which four sides of the mesh were twisted 
and two platted. Using No. 300 yarn, and working it 
twenty-four holes to the inch, it was equal to the best 
pillow plain net, but found to be too expensive for 
general use ; made half guage and of heavier yarn, this 
article has a graceful effect in window curtains. 

It has been already mentioned that Mr. Sewell was 
practically conversant with chemistry. Our account of 
him would not be as complete as his knowledge and 
efforts to make himself useful deserve, were not his 
several patents in this department enumerated. We 
are not competent to judge of their merits. 

In 1837 lie took out No. 7280, for a mode of combining oxygen 
with lead by combustion of charcoal so as to produce protoxide of 
lead ; and a further mode of preserving the carbonic acid gas gene- 
rated for the purpose of carbonating protoxide of lead and produc- 
ing ceruse of white lead; also the apparatus for doing it. In 1838, 
No. 7736, for a method of manufacturing oxide of lead to be turned 
into oxides of litharge and massical. Also a superior quality of 
white lead composed of more metallic lead and less carbonic acid 
than are commonly used, the carbonic acid being in better state, also 
to purify or wash white lead more perfectly. In 1840, No. 8765, 
for obtaining carbonic acid pure and at a small expence from minerals 
containing carbonate of magnesia. In 1848, No. 12030, for improve- 
ments in making flour so as to admit its being kept for several weeks 
and subsequently being made into bread without using yeast. This 
he proposed to accomplish by a superior method of combining 
hydrochloric acid in which were one equivalent of hydrogen and one 
of chlorine, with bi-carbonate of soda in which were one equivalent 
of oxygen and one of sodium, these applied in the way described 
in his specification to the fecula or starch in flour, the hydrochloric 
acid is immediately absorbed and remains inactive till the flour 
is wanted to be made into dough by the process specified. Mr. Sewell 
also devised a new method of making artificial manure. 

Mr. Sewell, it has been well said, is a representative 
man, of whose abilities the class of mechanicians may 
be proud ; while the suavity of his manners and high 
integrity of his character made him the object of affec- 
tionate regard to friends and fellow-citizens, who re- 
gretted that in the evening of life he should seek an 
Australian home. The writer of these pages may be 
permitted, after thirty years' intercourse, to record the 
esteem he has ever felt for the subject of this short 
memoir. 



( 320 ) 



CHAPTER XXII. 



MR. JAMES FISHER AND MR. WILLIAM CROFTS. 

MR. FISHER was identified with the bobbin net trade 
from its commencement in several important respects. 
He was born in Cumberland about the year 1775. 
His father occupied a farm in that county, but by a 
singular and painful accident which occurred to one 
of his sons, the three other brothers successively decided 
to quit their home and occupation, and seek their 
fortunes in trade. Of these, James the second son, 
was the first to proceed in search of employment, which, 
it is said, he found in the shop of a London haberdasher. 
Shortly after he had attained manhood, he was noticed 
as an active and intelligent traveller for the disposal 
of Buckinghamshire lace goods, principally in the 
northern and midland districts of England. No doubt 
he early acquired in this difficult school that knowledge 
of men, and insight into the principles of trade, which 
lay at the foundation of his future success. He was 
distinguished for his acquaintance with the best sources 
from which the goods he dealt in might be drawn, 
and with their quality and value. He combined a just 
taste in their selection, with an unswerving resolution 
to make them bring a profit. His first purchases 
in Nottingham lace were made from C. Lacy, afterwards 
his brother-in-law, who was in the point net trade. 
At that time, 1800, this connection was valuable to 
Fisher. 

Upon entering into the business of a wholesale 
London dealer in lace on his own account, he deter- 
mined to build up a concern that should be both ex- 
tensive and profitable. He sought and obtained for his 
customers in London and the provinces first-class traders. 
Punctual himself, he required punctuality on their part, 



MR. JAMES FISHER. 321 

if distrust were excited, explanation was sought, wliicli 
if not satisfactory, closed the account. The town and 
country connexion of this house from 1812, was culti- 
vated with such vigour, as seemed to render want of 
success impossible. 

While making steady advances in a business, which 
extended at length to most of the principal towns in 
the kingdom, as well as in all his subsequent manage- 
ment of it, he required on the part of those he employed, 
the same promptitude as from customers. Although 
dissatisfaction with his travellers, sometimes not on 
the most material points, might probably be the 
signal for their dismission, there was one extraor- 
dinary exception to these sudden determinations. Like 
most men of great administrative talent, Mr. Fisher 
gathered round him very active clever people to carry 
on his operations. Several such have since become 
well-known. One of them became a partner in his 
London house, and represented it for some years on 
the west of England commercial circuit. This person 
used to boast, that his allowance for travelling expenses 
was 1000 a-year. He astonished even old commercial 
travellers and helped to ruin younger ones, by daily 
excessive indulgence at the dinner table, and by nightly 
dissipation. His talents when engaged in business were 
confessedly unsurpassed. In whatever way the prece- 
ding evening had been spent, at nine in the morning 
he was prepared for his customers, whose accounts 
being first paid, sales of surprising amounts were 
frequently effected. His Sunday dinner bills were some- 
times enormous. On one occasion, including broken table, 
pier, and window glass, the charge amounted to upwards 
of 10. Such insane profusion rendered it at length 
impossible for the head of the house to retain him. 
Thus was lost one of the best partnerships in the 
metropolis, with the certainty of an affluent position 
for life. After a few years spent, partly in America 
and on the continent, this unhappy man returned to 
London, broken in constitution, and almost without 
resources. Mr. Fisher, hearing of his state, sent a 
physician to alleviate his sufferings, and a friend with 
means to administer to his necessities. He refused 



322 MR. JAMES FISHER AND 

both, and soon after died. As a contrast to the example 
of Mr. Fisher, who had passed unharmed through the 
seductive influences of the commercial room and the 
road, and attained a station of such eminence, the 
history of the lace trade would have been incomplete, 
without some record of the talents and end of John 
Hughes, its most noted salesman in the west. 

Some time after Mr. Fisher's commencement of 
business on his own account, being at the warehouse 
of Mr. Lacy, he was shewn a sample of the bobbin net 
then just produced, approved of it, and bought the 
first parcel of this article ever sold. From this time 
he entertained a high opinion of Mr. Heathcoat's 
ability, and showed a growing interest in his machinery. 
His purchases of bobbin net became very large as his 
business increased. In 1847, nearly forty years after 
the first expression of his favourable judgment of the 
invention, Mr. Fisher presented a likeness of Mr, 
Heathcoat, painted by Pickersgill, to the Nottingham 
Mechanics' Institution, saying, "that the portrait of 
one of the foremost mechanicians of the present day 
would be suitably placed in the locality where the 
first triumph of his genius was achieved." 

After the expiration of Mr. Heathcoat's patent in 1823, 
Mr. Fisher began to embark capital in buildings and 
bobbin net machinery at New Radford, near Nottingham. 
This was increased rapidly, until the outlay became 
very large. His attention was early and strongly 
directed to the possibility and importance of making such 
alterations and adaptations of the various kinds of ma- 
chines, as would produce plain nets more rapidly and 
cheaply; afterwards slight then closer imitations of pillow 
lace grounds were got off the frames. This opened up the 
way more clearly to the steps necessary to secure the 
mechanical skill which might place further inventions 
in his own hands. 

In narrating John Levers the younger's connection 
with the lace trade, the three first patents taken out 
for Mr. James Fisher are mentioned, Nos. 5622, 5741, 
and 5940, and the dissolution of their partnership. In 
1831, Mr. William Crofts had constructed a machine 
for making a net, called, from its being made round like 



MR. WILLIAM CROFTS. 323 

a sack, "sack bag net," and from the formation of its 
meshes "fender" or " pantry-window net." 

The machine was a rolling locker single tier ; it had three distinct 
comb bars and two warps coming from two separate beams at the 
back and front of the middle comb-bar. The carriages passing 
through both warps made two pieces of this net traversing round 
at the selvage. 

This machine excited considerable attention at the 
time, but as there was and could be no traverse, and 
consequently no solidity in wear, it soon fell into 
disuse. A similar article, made in a different manner, 
has been again for a long time largely made. 

Crofts was already known as one of the quickest 
and cleverest hands working in a Levers' frame. The 
machine just described, shewed that he perfectly under- 
stood the principles upon which it is constructed. He 
rapidly acquired an accurate knowledge of every other 
kind of bobbin net machinery. 

Upon the exit therefore of Mr. John Levers, jun., 
from Mr. Fisher's manufactory, Crofts took his position 
as principal mechanician of the establishment, and in 
his name the eighteen patents, including thirty distinct 
constructions, about to be referred to, were taken out 
on his principal's account. These he specified for, and 
must at least have understood and assisted in drawing 
out specifications for, whoever the inventor might be. 
But from the nature and extent of the alterations and 
adjustments of the original machinery, required to pro- 
duce the varied results obtained under these patents, 
it is very certain none but a man of very clear mechanical 
mind could have successfully fulfilled the responsible 
duties which Crofts undertook. The trade is no doubt 
indebted to him for devising important improvements 
of his own, as well as bringing into successful operation 
those of others. 

The following is a brief and as intelligible an account 
of these patents, and of the many matters for which 
they were taken out, as the nature of this work will 
allow : 

The first patent obtained by Crofts on behalf of Fisher, was for 
Bagley's lever honeycomb invention in 1832, No. 6229, as mentioned 

Y2 



324 MR. JAMES FISHER AND 

elsewhere. The next was, No. 6349, for making breadths on a 
rolling locker machine, also in 1832. 

In this year also Crofts made spots on a double locker frame 
by breaking out the main guides and replacing them by active 
guides. 

Again, in 1833, No. 6382, a rolling locker circular machine for 
making breadths, but it would not work safely. 

And on the same day, No. 6383, for bobbin net machinery which 
was combined and actuated in a new manner. 

Another, in 1833, No. 6447, is a double locker breadth machine 
in which the locker is cut in nicks to let carriages remain untraversed 
and using pickers to hold them back, and having pins to fill up 
interstices acting from extra bars. 

In 1834, No. 6618 was for making pusher net by carriages work- 
ing upside down, and which were acted on by pushers like jacks, 
moved by an organ barrel. To lay in weaving threads, a large wheel 
is placed on the side of the machine. It had in the whole three 
organ barrels. This machine was very complicated and but little used. 

Again, in 1834, No. 6717, for ornamenting lace on a treble 
bolt and comb bar machine, having front and back bolt bars, double 
tier; and middle comb bar, single tier. Between the three bars 
come up two warps. The carriages are turned upside down and 
the tails are worked by hook pushers operated upon by an organ 
barrel to draw the carriages ; the Jacquard not being yet applied. 

And, in 1834, No. 6739, also for ornamenting lace on a Levers' 
machine having six extra guide bars and two extra cotton beams. 
In making the net there are nine motions to the hole ; to avoid 
hogging the twist, the points take from the carriage heads. 

In 1835, Crofts took out what is called his monster 
patent, No. 6854, from its enormous length of specifi- 
cation, (filling 149 pages, and requiring forty-nine sheets 
of drawings, many of them of no little intricacy), as well 
as from the significant fact that it claimed and described 
nine professed inventions or improvements in the manu- 
facture of spotted goods and cloth works four on pusher, 
three on circular, and two on Levers' machines. The 
cost to Mr. Fisher of taking out the patent for these 
machines, was said to have been from 4000 to 5000, 
and must have been very great ; the cost to the Patent 
Office of their 250 published copies has been 250. 
The reason for this outlay by Mr. Fisher was not at 
first sight very apparent. It is probable, however, that 
the success consequent on the use of the first spotting 
patent bought from Sneath, and the advantage attending 
a perfect control over the production of every article, 
into which a spot was introduced, even to the narrowest 
fancy edging or insertion wrought upon these classes 



MR. WILLIAM CROFTS. o 

of bobbin net machinery, was seen to be of such 
magnitude and importance, as to convince so keen a 
man of business as Mr. Fisher that any outlay, however 
large, for such a purpose, would almost certainly more 
than repay itself. Moreover, a series of patent rights 
would render excellent service under the competition 
to which his country trade was now subjected, by 
securing priority of novelties and leading articles in 
meshes, ornamentation, and style ; enabling him to keep 
the precedence, which, by his talent and energy, he had 
for a quarter of a century maintained in the supply of 
machine-wrought lace. The plan so far succeeded that 
the trade in wide spotted nets has ever since remained 
for the most part in his hands, his machinery being 
continually engaged in its manufacture. 

Croft's patent inventions, in this prolific year, 1835, iL.ay be 
briefly stated as follows: (1) A method of weaving on pusher 
machines by using five cotton beams, seven extra pusher bars, three 
extra guide bars and two weaving guides which operated betv/een 
pusher and comb bars, two worms conducted the point bars. (2) A 
method of making spots on pusher machines by two extra cotton 
beams without stopping the machine. (3) Another method of making 
pusher spots. (4) An improvement on his former patent, No. 6618, 
in 1834, by applying a particular kind of combs instead of bolts 
for guides to hooked pushers. (5) A circular comb frame in which the 
spotting threads were slackened by a drawing bar and carriages which 
make the spots when moved by pushers. (6) A machine for making 
spots on rolling locker and on double locker frames by throwing 
the main wheels out of gear and moving the spotting carriages only. 
Champollier, of Calais, and Machien, of Lisle, have gained a suit in 
the French courts, which has decided that this is not an infringement 
of Sneath's method. (7) For spotting on double locker frames. There 
are nicks made in the locker bars which hold back the carriages 
while the spots are made. Slide plates fill up the interstices when 
the plain net is making. The front points are of two lengths, the 
long ones take up the spot and lodge the cast thread of the spot upon 
the back points. This frame has five cotton beams and six guide 
bars. (8) A method of making blonde or straight down net, the 
carriages and warp only traversing a mesh or two. The spotting 
is effected by the use of extra guide bars on the circular bolt 
machine by throwing the main wheels out of gear while spotting. 
(9) A method of making spots on a circular machine with extra 
guide bars and extra cotton beams, not stopping or throwing the 
main wheels out of gear while spotting, the spots being made by 
extra warp threads. (10) Making spots on rolling locker machine, 
by using extra guides and extra beams, and throwing the beam 
wheels out of gear while spotting. (11) A method of performing 
the same spotting process on a double locker as that last described. 



326 MR. JAMES FISHER AND 

(12) A method of making Levers' spots, by breaking out the main 
guides where the spot is required and substituting extra guides. 
The main body of the carriages is at rest while the spot is made. 
This plan not used. (13) A method of spotting blonde or straight down 
net, by shooting in two extra threads and working without pusher 
bars, thereby reducing the labour considerably. (14) A plan for 
making honeycomb net from circular bolt machines by breaking out 
the main guides where the honeycomb is required and filling up 
the space by two taping and four filling up guides. There are 
eight guide bars and four thread beams in this frame. The point 
bar is worked by an eccentric wheel. (15) A plan for making honey- 
comb on rolling locker frames. And (16) one for making honeycomb 
on double locking frames. In 1836, Mr. Fisher, by Crofts, patented 
a plan, No. 7190, for an application of the Jacquard to the bobbin 
net machine. And, in 1836, No. 7345, methods for figuring and 
ornamenting bobbin net twist lace and other fabrics. No. 7638, was 
the patent taken out in Crofts' name for Bagley's double warp platted 
lace described in the account given of the latter inventor ; but it also 
included making spotted and honeycomb nets. 

In 1839, Crofts took out, No. 8038, a patent for making ornamented 
lace and net of various kinds. 

In 1840, No. 8430, for twisted looped or woven fabrics by the 
application of Jacquard caids, using Levers' jacks acting on stumps 
which entering the warp threads when the stumps were pressed 
forwards, the levers removing the warp threads over more gaits 
than one, thus made linen work or large holes when required. 
Again, in 1840, No. 8690 was taken out for a straight down spotting 
Jacquard machine. And finally, so far as Crofts' patents on behalf 
of Mr. Fisher are in question, in 1842, No. 9467 was obtained 
for an improved method of manufacturing figured lace. 

It will have been noticed that these patents were not 
only for the fabrication of certain diverse woven objects 
on the three great classes of bobbin net machines 
pusher, circular, and lever; but also for different me- 
chanical modes in each of accomplishing these results, 
as by double or rolling lockers, stumps, or Jacquards ; 
and thus a series of shackles were put on the free use 
of machinery by a great capitalist, who on the one hand 
was a very large producer of machine-wrought lace, 
and on the other, had risen to be for many years one 
of the largest purchasers of every class of finished goods 
in the market. These facts combined to produce on the 
minds of many mechanicians great disinclination to seek 
for useful adaptations of bobbin net machinery, under 
fear of litigation and penalties for infringement. At 
length meetings of machine owners were held upon a 
subject felt to be of the greatest importance to the 
trade, and which had, in 1835, drawn the earnest 



MR. WILLIAM CROFTS. 327 

attention of a large part of the owners of lace machines 
to the serious position of the trade. 

A short abstract of the address of this body, and 
their plan of association for the encouragement, pro- 
tection, and throwing open for general use, inventions 
and improvements of machinery employed in the hosiery 
warp and bobbin net trades, is as follows : 

" These machines are capable of very great modifications, calculated 
when effected to much increase their value, and use and open up new 
sources of employment and profit. Skilful persons often suppress 
such inventions (some of which have afterwards proved of much 
value) because unable to bring them out, so as to secure any profit 
resulting from. them. Some have been ruined by costly experiments, 
which others have beneficially appropriated. English inventors, being 
generally in humble life and not able to encounter the expense 
and uncertainty of our patent laws, carry them abroad, where, as 
in France, an inventor can secure the fruits of his skill at little 
expense in time and money. If they could command security for 
the profit of their inventions, they would apply to them all their 
skill and ingenuity; in the exercise of which, is to be found all 
our advantage in competing with foreigners, and ought therefore 
to be fostered with the utmost solicitude and care." The plan was 
"To raise by instalments a fund of 10,000, to be invested in the 
names of trustees then appointed ; and by subscriptions of machine 
owners and traders, mechanics, workpeople and others, to pay current 
outlays, premiums and expences. This fund to be under the control 
of a board, deciding on all measures finally, and reporting annually. 
One sub-committee to be composed of members competent to under- 
stand and decide upon the value of improvements and inventions 
offered for purchase or remuneration, and to report thereon to the 
board. Another sub-committee to watch proceedings under the 
patent laws and manage the legal department, reporting upon them 
to the general board. The association to be so constituted as not to 
form, a combination to limit trade ; or interfere with the lawful 
exclusive right to the use of machinery and inventions ; or by seeking 
any profit to the members as such, to form a partnership, or render liable 
to any claims beyond the amount of their several subscriptions. But it 
is intended to be so constituted as to prevent fraudulent assumptions of 
patent rights and their undue accumulation, through fear of expensive 
legal processes, and thus restraining the assertion of individual or trade 
rights to the use of inventions ; and chiefly to stimulate skill and 
ingenuity by the prospect of a fair reward, and, as far as possible, 
securing it to them." 

Scarcely any inventions or modifications of machines 
were brought under the notice of this board, no doubt 
from the idea cherished by each constructor of possible 
gain by patent rights from any new combination. 
But the fact that it numbered amongst its members the 
holders of three-fourths at least of all the machinery in 



MR. JAMES FISHER AND 

the lace trade, and was supported by the sympathy of 
the hosiery trade, was too significant to be slighted. 
And although, from 1835 up to 1838, Mr. Fisher sent 
out repeated notices to every maker and dealer in lace, 
that neither, at first spots, nor afterward plats, might 
be safely bought from any other than his authorised 
agents, the feelings of masters, workmen, and buyers 
were loudly sometimes, by small makers and men, 
intemperately expressed in opposition. This culmi- 
nated in a resolution to try the validity of the spotting 
patents taken out by Fisher; and in April, 1838, at a 
meeting, held in the Exchange Hall, of sixty highly 
influential owners of hosiery, lace, and yarn doubling 
machinery, presided over by J. C. Wright, Esq., banker, 
nearly 2000 was subscribed, and the following address 
was issued : 

"It having been unanimously admitted at this meeting as an. 
undoubted and incontrovertible fact, that most serious injury is 
accruing to the trade from the extent to which ingenious mechanics 
are carrying their inventions to the continent, and the causes of this 
most alarming and increasing evil being also unanimously declared ; 
it was agreed that the proposed society was the best and most 
legitimate mode of securing the just rights of ingenious artizans, 
and of retaining and fostering native talent in our own country." 

The committee appointed consisted of fifteen mem- 
bers, of whom five were magistrates, and Mr. Wright 
was treasurer. 

The object in view and the manner of pursuing it, 
were mainly those described in the address of 1835 ; 
but had even more special reference to mutual protection 
against actions for infringements. To prove the extent 
of intrusion upon the free action of the bobbin net 
trade, it was shewn that Crofts had then fifteen patents 
running ; besides which there were forty unexpired taken 
out by other parties, some of which were also in Fisher's 
hands. Gradually less was heard of infractions of patent 
rights; till, in October, 1847, an action, which had 
long been pending between Fisher and Crofts, and 
Oliver and Atkin, to try the validity of the patent for 
Bagley's plat nets, and to which the defendants (backed 
by the trade) had put in one hundred and ten objections, 
the expences having been already large, both parties 
tired, and the issue doubtful, a compromise was ar- 



MR. WILLIAM CROFTS. 329 

ranged ; each party paid their own costs ; the plat claim 
was allowed to Fisher and Crofts, while Oliver and 
Atkin were to have a right to make the eighteen 
patterns (being only double warps in certain parts) 
alleged to have been infringements, leaving as an open 
question whether wicker fine work made with a double 
warp, and broken into meshes, was or was not an in- 
fringement of the plat patent. 

From this time hostile interference on the part of 
Mr. Fisher with the trade practically declined, and at 
length ceased altogether. The factory and machinery 
for making bobbin net is still carried on at Radford, by 
Mr. James Fisher, of Scotholme house, his eldest son. 
This gentleman is a highly educated and talented gra- 
duate of Cambridge University. The purchase of goods 
in Nottingham for finishing, largely carried on for years 
by this house, has since the death of Mr. Fisher been 
given up. His London business reached its highest 
point probably about twenty years ago ; since which it 
has somewhat declined, and is not now in the hands of 
the family. 

Mr. Fisher was a personification of method in carry- 
ing out sound principles of business determinately to 
their appropriate end. In their steady development 
there was neither intermission nor change ; and every 
one who knew him, saw in that fact the ground of well- 
earned prosperity. He willed success, and he won it ; 
becoming the master of an excellent business and large 
property. He only ceased to manage personally his 
weighty affairs, when attacked by the disease which 
rapidly brought him to the grave. Mr. Fisher died at 
his house at Dulwich in 1849, aged seventy-four. His 
opinion and judgment in matters of general commerce 
and national manufactures were highly appreciated at 
the Board of Trade, and well thought of by first-class 
men in the city. 

After quitting Mr. Fisher's manufactory, Crofts in connection with 
Gibbons, in 1844, took out No. 10,370, a patent for making velvet 
patterns on circular Levers' bobbin net, by the Jacquard operating on 
stumps which acted upon the warp threads, producing various textures. 
The same year, in concert witfi Dunnicliff and Bagley, a patent, 
No. 10,390, was obtained by him for lace and other weavings. And 



330 ME. JAMES FISHER. 

finally, in 1846, No. 11,344 was taken out by himself alone, for 
a similar class of productions obtained by means of pattern surfaces 
acting on independent instruments, so as to slacken bobbin threads 
at will, in single tier rotaries. 

A method of producing pattern originally devised by William 
Herbert and perfected by Crofts was intermediate between the use 
of the chain wheel which was cumbrous and expensive and the 
Jacquard. It may be described as a pin pattern surface plate 
machine. If 112 pins in 4 rows of 28 in. each be placed lengthwise 
to each guide bar, the plate recedes and advances to and irom the 
machine and at 28 removals ; the bolts shog from one line of pins 
on to the other, and have the same powers in action as an eccentric 
cut wheel having 113 rises and falls. The pins are of unequal 
lengths, and by merely taking one out and replacing it by another 
in the progressing plate, the pattern may be changed nearly as 
quickly as printing type is set. 

Mr. Crofts in the decline of life is not in the enjoy- 
ment of those pecuniary results which his mechanical 
talents have undoubtedly deserved. For more than 
thirty years his great abilities were devoted successfully 
to the mechanical subordination of the separate threads 
of which lace is composed, so as that exact imitations 
of various kinds of pillow lace might be obtained. In 
the retirement of age it will be pleasant to him to know, 
that in the judgment of many others he has attained a 
high position in practical mechanics. 



( 331 ) 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



THE BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 1823 TO 1836. 

WATER or steam power had been applied several 
years to bobbin net machinery in the larger establish- 
ments, but between 1820 and 1822 it was much more 
so, and was the means of drawing machines into factories 
on all hands. Every thing combined to lead the people 
in Nottingham and its neighbourhood, to expect golden 
times when the patent shackles were removed. In con- 
sequence, through the years 1823 to 1825, a time of 
unparalleled prosperity, capital flowed into the business 
abundantly from bankers, lawyers, physicians, clergy- 
men, landowners, farmers, and retail dealers, in order 
to construct new lace machinery. That which was 
already at work could be sold for three times its cost. 
Every available smith and mechanic on the spot was 
hired, and the wonderful wages offered, speedily attracted 
smiths and mechanics from far off towns. Day labourers 
came from the plough and strikers from the forge, for some 
of the latter got 5 to 10 a-week. Birmingham, Man- 
chester, and Sheffield engineers and tool-makers met on 
one common ground ; but houses were too few to lodge 
them ; bricks doubled in price, and building land sold 
for 4000 an acre. Thousands of pounds were wasted 
in paying enormous weekly wages to people pretending 
to construct machinery, the movements of which they 
could not comprehend ; and tens of thousands of pounds 
were drawn from speculators for machines, which, even if 
well constructed, could not possibly repay them their outlay. 
The inflation of the public mind was universal and became 
a sort of local epidemic a mania, acquiring the name in 
after years of the l twist net fever.' The whole commu- 
nity was athirst for gain, and became intoxicated. 
Nothing like it had ever been seen before in that trade 



332 THE BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 

or probably in any other. Those who actually wrought in 
the machines had an opportunity to realise large sums of 
money. The provident generally, as was natural, put 
their gains in a part or the whole of a machine, paying 
for it by weekly instalments ; thus becoming partly or 
wholly their own masters. The self-indulgent spent 
their time and money in a constant round of alternate 
work and pleasure. They would ride on horseback to 
and from labour, and having taken their shift at their 
machines, refresh themselves with a pint of port or claret 
on their return. Not a few of these spendthrifts were 
receiving parish pay or aid from public benevolence 
within the following ten years. The minds of many of 
the more ardent smiths and other mechanics became 
bewildered and overpowered, in the endeavour to over- 
come the difficulties presented by this intricate class of 
machinery, and they fell into insanity. When the 
speculative national frenzy of 1825, which had counten- 
anced this more limited mania, collapsed in 1826, the 
effect in Nottingham and the district around was fearful. 
Visions of wealth and cherished schemes for grasping 
fortunes suddenly, were dissipated almost in a day. 
Many not in the trade, as well as some who were, lost 
all their means and fell into hopeless poverty ; some 
died from despair ; others went into self-imposed exile ; 
a few destroyed themselves. 

The patentee and licensees had in the time of pros- 
perity put into operation the most improved and speedy 
machinery devised up to that epoch, and of course reaped 
the larger part of the profits that accrued. The demand 
for this lace net continued for some time to increase, 
until it became very large indeed; but the supply in- 
variably went beyond it, and prices fell constantly. 
The prejudicial results of the unnatural and excessive 
increase of machinery, between 1820 and 1826, were 
very manifest in the experience of the trade during the 
following ten years. Meantime the immigration had 
been so great that the Nottingham of that day suddenly 
burst its bounds, not being able to contain the people, 
and has continued to overflow ever since the population, 
which was 47,300 in 1810, when the twist trade begun, 
having become, in 1830, 79,000, and about 150,000 in 



INCREASE OF BOBBIN NET MACHINERY. 333 

18GG. The returns of this new branch of the lace 
manufacture were such as, when added to the extra- 
ordinary amount of wages paid for machinery, greatly to 
increase the circulation of money through the wholesale 
and retail trades of the town. Although Mr. Heathcoat 
disposed of the greater part of his Tiverton production 
through his London house, and Mr. Nunn also sent that 
of his Isle of Wight factory to be disposed of in the 
London market, Nottingham became from this time the 
emporium for the English machine-wrought lace, to 
which the goods have ever since been sent for sale, and 
where buyers resort to make their purchases for home 
and foreign trade. 

Trade committees, both of masters and their work- 
men, had been watching the course of events in the 
bobbin net trade, through the last years of Heathcoat's 
patent, and their deliberations were deemed to be of 
still greater importance in the eventful time which it had 
been foreseen must inevitably supervene upon its close. 

The masters' committee found in 1 826 the machines thus located : 
In Nottingham, 650; Eadford, 315; Hyson Green, 110; Beeston, 69; 
Basford, 62; Sneinton, 80; and elsewhere in Nottinghamshire, 150 
total 1436. In Loughborough and neighbourhood, 240 ; and at 
Leicester and vicinity, 38; in Derbyshire, 78; at Tewksbury, 37; 
Shipton Mallett, 53; Chard, 49; Exwick, 40; Taunton, 100; Barn- 
staple, 34 ; Isle of Wight, 99 ; Tiverton, 204 ; Tottenham, 23 ; sundry 
other places, 38 altogether 2469 machines, to which number they 
had arisen from 970 in 1818. 

The masters' committee ascertained also that during 
the speculations in machinery, prevailing from 1823 to 
1826, Levers' eight-qr. machines sold for 700, circulars 
for 650, pushers arid traverse warps for 480 to 550 ; 
during the first six months of 1826, though the working 
hours had been restricted to ten per day, the prices of 
Levers' sunk to 150, of circulars to 130, of pushers 
to 120, and of traverse warps to 80. An ' old Lough- 
borough,' was purchased in 1822 for 1100, and was sold 
in 1823, just before the mart ceased its operations, for 
700. A t Greenwood' machine was bought for 250. 
Each was sold for 2, the day the mart was dissolved. 
This was before the ' fever.' A Derby workman told 
Dr. Ure that he had bought a machine for 230, by 
working which he had gained for a time 1. 105. a-day, 



334: THE BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 

and had sold it for 2 as old iron. During the 
75 to 120 a-year was paid for the rent only of a 
six-qr. machine. Such a machine cost the builder 600 ; 
and 50 to 60 was often paid for being taught to work 
one. It was found that having no confidence in the 
continuance of high prices either of machinery or nets, 
many sagacious persons had realized their interest by 
selling both, so that of the then owners of machines, 
only one-third were originally lace manufacturers; and 
that of these not a few had fallen into difficulty, and 
some into deep distress. 

The knowledge how to build this class of machinery 
had been in great measure confined, during the con- 
tinuance of the patent, to the smiths' shops of the 
patentees and their principal licensees ; but it had now 
been made a separate business also, employing indepen- 
dent skill and capital to a large amount, in order to meet 
a demand unprecedented in its character and extent. 
The subsequent fluctuations in demand for bobbin net 
machinery have been great; but the necessity felt 
by those who had thus embarked their means to 
keep their men employed, did then, and has ever since 
operated to, keep the supply of machinery up to an 
amount beyond the home demand for it, as well as that 
for France and elsewhere. The influence which surplus 
machinery must ever have upon any trade is very great. 
It forces production at whatever cost upon those who 
hold those machines and they cannot employ them, except 
at the risk of an unnatural pressure on prices and profits. 
The like pressure will come in due time on workmen's 
wages also a result eventually of the greatest importance 
to them, as well as to their employers. That the business 
of building machines is different in its operation to that 
of producing consumable articles, is a truth never yet 
estimated at its real value in our practical trade economy. 

The inevitable result of so great and sudden an addi- 
tion to the machinery in the twist net trade was an 
equally rapid reduction in prices of nets and diminution 
in the confidence of buyers as to their ultimate value. 
Though very low in 1826, prices of nets had somewhat 
advanced in 1827: but so great had the panic in the 
lace market become in 1828, that the trade committee 



RESTRICTION OF HOURS. 335 

called a general meeting of machine owners, at winch 
it was resolved to institute a * trade mart' for the 
purchase and sale of nets, partly on the principle of 
that of 1819, and partly on that of the Leeds cloth 
halls. This company was to raise a fund by 200 shares 
of 30 each, to be held exclusively by owners of 
machines, and the business directed by twelve such 
owners whose machines were working by power and 
twelve by hand labour. They were to regulate the 
working hours of the machinery. This scheme, how- 
ever, it was found impossible to realize. A subscribed 
fund wherewith to purchase the goods as they were 
made, was found to be out of the question. It was thought 
that if many further machines were not built, and the 
working time of those already constructed could be 
sufficiently limited, the risk of loss to subscribers con- 
sequent on the mart plan would not be incurred, and 
the immediate interests of all would be consulted by the 
reduction of stocks and of supply, which such restriction 
must effect. At a large meeting, held on December 
llth, 1828, including most of the principal owners or 
their representatives from all parts of England, it was 
unanimously resolved to limit the working hours from 
eighteen and twenty then customary, to twelve daily, for 
one month. On January 7th, 1829, another public 
meeting was held. The restriction had been adhered to 
almost universally, and it was resolved the twelve hours 
should be continued in operation. In March, the unani- 
mity on the part of the owners of machines was such 
as to induce the committee to draw up, and offer for 
signature, the following draft of an 

"AGREEMENT FOR THE EXECUTION OF RESTRICTION OF HOURS' 
DEED." 

"A committee shall be appointed for better management of 
the bobbin net trade in England. 

"That each person owning ten machines which are in work, 
or one person belonging to a firm owning ten machines at work, or 
his or their known agent, in the absence of the principal, shall 
whilst owning and working or causing the same to be worked, be 
one of such committee. 

"That the owners of every two hundred working machines 
(independent of the above) may choose one representative who shall 
form one of the said committee ; such last committee men to be chosen 
annually, and appointed by a written authority from such owners. 



336 THE BOBBIN NET LACE TEADE. 

" That each committee man or known agent may appoint a proxy ; 
such proxy being a member of the committee. It shall meet on 
the first Tuesday in every month, and at other times when needful, 
if called together by the president of the last meeting, and may 
adjourn from time to time. A president shall be chosen, who shall 
have a casting-vote when the business is to be decided by a majority. 
A majority of votes shall carry all questions except as after mentioned. 
In case of death, refusal or incapacity of one of the representative 
committee, the remainder of the representative committee may choose 
another until the next annual choice of the committee. Three-fourths 
of the whole committee to have power, after giving not less than 
ten days' notice by advertisement, to limit the hours of working and 
to control the same (including stoppage) in such way as they may 
think right, the assent of such three-fourths to be signified by their 
respective signatures. Machines are not to be sold or parted with, 
but so as to be subject to the present restrictions. In case of 
machines being worked contrary to the orders of the committee, 
a penalty to be incurred of twenty shillings for each machine for 
each day of offending. The committee to pay all necessary expences, 
and may reimburse themselves, costs and expences, from the money 
to be received from the penalties as far as the same will extend, 
and from the money to be raised as after mentioned. Funds shall 
be raised for such purpose by a subscription of threepence, or any 
less sum. if directed by the committee for every quarter of a machine, 
the same to be collected quarterly from the date of the deed ; 
payments to be due at the commencement of the quarter. The 
committee every Christmas to certify in writing signed by the president, 
the number of working machines in the trade, which certificate is 
to be conclusive for the following year. It is agreed that there 
are now four thousand machines in the trade at work. The deed 
shall from time to time be in force when executed by the owners 
of seven-eighths of the working machines ; and may be put an 
end to by the signatures of the owners (parties thereto) of seven- 
eighths of the working machines. The present renters of machines 
signing the deed, shall stand in the place of the owners as to 
penalties and payments. No owner shall hereafter let a machine 
except to a person who shall sign a separate deed, binding himself 
to the above restrictions and to the above penalties and payments ; 
and whilst such person rents the machine, the owner not to be 
answerable for the penalties and pa3 T ments." 

" We the undersigned do mutually agree with each other to execute 
a deed upon the above terms and conditions, as soon as the same shall be 
prepared and made ready for signature. As witness our hands this 30th 
of March, 1829. 

(Signed] JOHN HEATHCOAT AND Co." 

Working 206 machines and by 1262 other machine holders. The 
aggregate of machines represented held by these signataries and 
controlled by the committee was 3307 ; of these, ten held respectively 
83, 71, 67, 60, 40, 39, 32, 28, 27 and 24; two held 23 each; throe 
held 21, 20, 19 respectively; two held 16; and two 14 each; three, 13 ; 
six, 12; three, 11; and ten 10 each; these 43 houses having 1087 
frames, had a right to sit and vote in the committee. Besides these, 
four persons held 9 ; eight, 8 ; eight, 7 ; eighteen, 6 ; twenty-five, 5 ; 



KKSTUILTION OF HOURS. 337 

sixty-seven, 4 ; ono hundred and seventeen, 3 ; two hundred and 
fifty-two, 2 ; seven hundred and four held only 1 each ; and eight 
had one-half share each in a machine. These 1211 machine holders 
had a right to send eleven delegates into the committee to represent 
their 2220 frames. 

The total number of the frames in the trade was 
ascertained to be 3842 in 1829 ; so that signatures for 
fifty-five more machines would have made the deed 
operative. If desired these could have been at once 
obtained. But this was not deemed advisable, and the 
document was placed in the hands of the chairman, the 
writer of this work : where, with all the other papers 
connected with this laborious affair, it has since re- 
mained. This deed was not approved by a minority 
of the owners of about one-eighth of the machinery 
of the trade. One very large owner, who had supported 
the committee, withdrew in May ; another, equally im- 
portant, had signified his dissent by working his ma- 
chines twenty-four hours in the day (which practice he 
maintained as a rule long afterwards), and much ill will 
was thus engendered, followed by some slight acts of 
violence. Stocks had been reduced by the end of June, 
so that there was only in the hands of producers less 
than three weeks supply. But though prices of the 
unfinished plain goods in widths of 12 qr., which had 
been forced down by a special competition, were raised 
33 per cent., yet sales of other kinds were as difficult 
as before the restriction ; and the confidence of the 
buyers of finished goods was lessened rather than in- 
creased by what they justly deemed to be the factitious 
interference of this committee with the freedom of 
manufacturing operations. The fact of two factories, 
one of 95, the other of 105 machines being worked un- 
restricted hours, added to the serious oversight that the 
deed contained no restriction against an unlimited construction 
of new machinery, was sufficient to break up the com- 
mittee. On the 13th October, 1829, the resolution of 
the committee to give up their charge was made known 
at a very large meeting of the trade ; and contrary to 
the wish then strongly expressed, and of the memorial 
sent by 1808 Nottingham bobbin net journeymen signed 
between 10 A.M. and 6 P.M. of that day, the committee 



338 TUP: BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 

resigned ; the deed was given up, and of course the 
restriction came to an end. 

The whole transaction was, with the exception of 
one member of the committee, undertaken and carried 
on in good faith. The number of machines building was 
twenty-one in May throughout the trade, and in June 
seventy-one. But the latter did not include forty-four of 
12 qr. width, which, by the time the deed was set aside, 
Samuel Hall (not Mr. S. Hall the gasser) one of the most 
active promoters of, and workers in the committee of 
the restriction unknown to the rest of the members, 
had put in rapid course of construction. The subsequent 
history of these machines is curious and instructive. 
The trade had become over loaded with plain net 
rotary machinery before these were ten years' old. 
They were excellently constructed and in working 
order, yet, though they had cost about 14,000, the 
lot was unsuccessfully offered by auction for 600 
in 1838. In truth, as will be seen by the census of 
machines in 1831 and 1833 respectively, the mania for 
building lace machinery seemed incurable, however de- 
pressed and unprofitable the trade might be. There still 
existed amongst the Nottingham machine owners much 
jealousy of those in the west of England. Yet the bobbin 
net machine owners at Tiverton, Barnstaple, Taunton, 
and Exeter working together about 500, chiefly 8qr. 
machines, entered into this restriction, not only without 
stock, but with large orders for France on hand at 
relatively high prices. This is explained by the fact, 
that the twist machines then at work on plain nets in 
France were 8 qr. The 12 qr. nets therefore, if smuggled 
in, would have been detected by their width, so the 
contraband trade was confined to 8 qr., which enhanced 
their relative price in Nottingham. The makers of 
them, however, gave their authority to their agents 
without hesitation, to bind them to the restricted hours, 
and they were duly adhered to. It is worth notice, 
that so great had been the demoralization amongst 
some of the families of the workpeople by the relay 
or shift system, and continual nightwork, that several 
machine owners in the west resolved, when this tem- 
porary restriction ceased, that though the long hours 



RESTBICTION OF HOURS. 



were resumed in the midland district, they would not 
return to them again. 

The amount of capital engaged in the machinery 
thus restricted, was about one million sterling; return- 
ing when at work in finished goods, three millions 
sterling a year, and employing with more or less con- 
stancy about 150,000 workpeople. The committee sat 
weekly, and held six large public meetings, at a total 
expence of 390. This is believed to be a solitary 
instance of such an almost unanimous delegation of 
authority and power on the part of the proprietors 
of so large an amount of machinery and capital, wielded 
so long, and relinquished with such a prompt and 
decided resolution. It is interesting to remark also, 
that all those who signed, except seven, were originally 
working artizans ; as were all those in the trade who 
did not sign, except one, Mr. Fisher. Some, but not 
many frames, were hired from those that remained of 
the outside owners who crowded into the business in 
1823-4-5. Where did the rest obtain the one million 
of money wherewith to become possessed of 3300 frames, 
and the additional credit and capital necessary for 
materials to work them ? The whole was the result 
of individual labour, skill, economy, and foresight, 
exercised for the most part during ten or twelve years. 
While too many, pressed by the after exigencies of 
the trade, have returned to their original position of 
workers in machines, which they for a time owned, the 
remainder with their successors have built up the goodly 
trade edifice that we now behold. 

During about nine months of the year 1829, fort- 
nightly meetings were held of the agents for the sale 
of power plain nets, at which lists of prices for them 
were agreed upon. So long as they could be obtained, 
these lists regulated sales, but as trade declined by 
accessions to the machinery employed and return for 
the most part to long hours, the impossibility of con- 
trolling prices by any such compact was manifest, and 
the meetings ceased. Since that time, though often 
proposed in periods of difficulty, the plan has only once 
been actually resorted to. This was in 1835, and as it 
immediately preceded a sudden increase in demand, its 

z'2 



340 THE BOBBIN NET LACE THADE. 

operation was highly beneficial. There has, on the 
part of some of the principal machine owners, ever since 
prevailed practical disunion in relation to fixed rates 
of prices. 

The author's connection with the public operations 
of the bobbin net trade in 1828-9, gave him facilities 
for drawing up with considerable accuracy an account 
of its then extent ; he therefore published such a docu- 
ment in 1831. Some of the more important facts will 
serve as a basis of comparison with future similar 
enumerations. 

The Manchester and Nottingham spinners and doublers' capital, 
employed in 35 factories containing 682,000 spindles and in stocks 
of wool and yarn, was calculated to amount to 935,000. The 
bobbin net trade had in 22 factories 1000 power machines; also 3500 
hand machines, stocks unwrought, wrought and in embroiderers and 
finishers' hands, valued at 1,375,000. At this time the number of 
people employed was about as follows : Manchester spinning and 
Nottingham doubling, 13,000 ; power net making, 3000 ; in hand 
machines, 5000; 4000 winders; 6000 menders; 30,000 pearlers, 
drawers, and finishers; and embroiderers wholly or partly employed 
in addition to domestic work, about 150,000. This surprising number 
was spread round Nottingham for fifty miles and in London, Devon, 
Somerset, Norfolk, Scotland and Ireland. The work being given out 
at centres near their homes by persons competent for that purpose, em- 
broiderers' wages and profits thereon were this year about 1,525,000. 
The diminution in the amount of embroidery, required a few years 
later, caused corresponding distress. At this time the larger part 
of the produce of the machinery, consisting of 1350 hand levers; 
100 hand rotaries ; 1300 hand circulars; 750 hand traverse warp and 
pushers; and 1000 power machines; 4500 in all; was disposed 
of in Nottingham by fifteen agents for factories, and about 200 persons 
who carried their employers goods daily from one finishing warehouse 
to another for sale. The first cost of cotton wool, almost the only 
raw material used, was 120,000; the ultimate returns amounted 
to 3,417,700; passing through the hands of about 70 plain and 
70 embroidering houses. An excessive and most rapid reduction 
had taken place in wages, for the amount had fallen 6*. a-week 
in the last two years; and men did not get now more than 18. 
and youths 10. a-week, working the difficult and ponderous twist 
net machine by hand. Winders, 2s. to 5s. ; menders, 4s. to 8*. ; 
embroiderers working long hours, children Is. to 3s. ; women, best 
hands, 5s. to 8s. reduced in 1833 to Is. to Is. 6d. and 3s. to 4s. 6d. 
respectively. 

If the reader carefully notices the fact that the 4500 machines 
could not have cost the handicraft owners less than 300 to 500 each, 
many of them much more, the following list is a most interesting 
one, as creditable as it is, at least to the author's mind, melancholy, 
from the after position to which the small owners have been reduced : 
seven hundred owned 1 machine each ; two hundred and twenty-six, 



LTISTICS. 341 

2 ; one hundred and eighty-one, 3 ; ninety-six, 4 ; forty, 5 ; twenty- 
one, 6 ; seventeen, 7 ; nineteen, 8 ; seventeen, 9 ; twelve, 10 ; eight, 11 ; 
six, 12 ; five, 13 ; five, 14; four, 16 ; and twenty-five owned respectively 
18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 50, 60, 
68, 70, 75, 95, 105 and 206. The total number of owners was 1382. 
It will afterwards be seen how rapidly the small owners were absorbed 
into the ranks of the journeymen, or disappeared from the trade. The 
principal cause was their falling into the error of putting too much 
of their acquired capital into machinery, to their distress and ruin 
as manufacturers, when the overload of stocks on all sides forbade 
prudent finishing houses to buy, and the payments for wages and 
materials compelled sales not only of goods, but eventually of the 
machines themselves at whatever loss. 

The movements in the machinery of the trade, from 1824 to 1833, 
were thus important and significant. 

In 1828, machines had begun again to be constructed; continued 
to increase in 1829 ; more so in 1830 ; chiefly of 8 qr. rotary ; in 1831 
many 10 qr. rotary; and again in 1832; and still more in 1833, 
and of increased widths. So that, notwithstanding the great number 
that had been sold as old iron, the total number which had 
become 4500 in 1831, had swelled out to 5000 machines in 1833. 
These consisted of 

Hand Levers, 5 and 6 qr., 500 ; 7 qr., 200 ; 8 qr., 300 ; 10 qr., 

300; 12 qr., 50; 16 qr., 30; 20 qr., 20 ; . . 1400 

Hand rotary, 10 qr., 100 ; 12 qr., 300 ;. . . 400 

Hand circular, 5 and 6 qr., 100 ; 7 qr., 300; 8 qr., 400; 9 qr., 

100; 10 qr., 300; 12 qr., 150; .... 1350 

Hand traverse, pusher, and straight bolt averaging 5 qr. ; 750 

Hand machines 3900 
Power, 5, 6 and 7qr., 90; 8 qr., 350; 10 qr., 280; 12 qr., 350; 

16 qr., 30; . 1100 

Total machines 5000 

The embroidery was reduced two-thirds and the hands one-third. 
The total returns of the English bobbin net trade were lessened since 
1831 at least one million sterling. 

There had been publicly offered for sale from 1824 to 1832, 1843 
machines, being 740 Levers, 418 circulars, 173 rotary, 512 pushers, 
&c., during which time certainly one-third at least of all the machinery 
in the trade changed hands. Machines of greater widths were con- 
stantly sought after in the midland district; while in the west of 
England the makers of bobbin net were wisely contented with 
8 qr. to 12 qr. widths. Levers 6 qr. now sold for 30; 8 qr. 50; 
circulars the same; 8, 8 qr., 11 points which cost 5000 in 1825, 
sold for 300, and five other 8 qr. sold for 20 altogether ; 6 qr. pushers 
which cost in 1825 350, sold for 30, and traverse warps for 3 
a machine. Uotary 8 qr. sold for 100 ; 12 qr. 180. The despair 
in 1834 of ever again making narrow and slow machines valuable, led 
to the breaking up in that year of between 5 and 600. Many were 
thrown piecemeal from the windows of the upper rooms in which 
they had been employed into the street below, not being thought 



Till-: BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 

worth, tlio trouble of carrying down stairs, though they had cost 
several hundreds of pounds each. A list is in the author's hands of 
machines thus broken up, which cost 2,000,000 but a few years 
before, and many of which were still in fair working condition. 
One of the Nottingham street cries then was " Old rags, bones, 
and twist (bobbin net) machines to sell ;" and numbers thus found 
their way to the scrap heap. By 1835 however, constructors had 
found uses for many such despised frames, adapting them to produce 
very valuable articles, so that they had risen tenfold in value; not 
a few Levers and traverse warps, previously producing articles selling 
at 4d. a rack, were by a trifling outlay, made to produce at a slight 
advance in cost, articles which sold currently for several years at 
3s. to 4s. a rack. Machines worth prior to alteration 10 each, 
after 50 had been expended in alterations to adapt them to 
make some new imitation of a pillow lace pattern or ground, have 
repaid the outlay the first month, and put 1000 a year profit into 
the pocket of the owner. For a time therefore but few more frames 
were broken up. Nevertheless the body of machinery was found 
in 1836, when an exact account was again taken of it by the author, 
to be much lessened in numbers, though partially compensated in 
production by their greater width. They had fallen from 5000 to 
3800. But the most striking change was in the number and classes 
of owners as indicated by the machines each owner held. In 1831 
there were 1382 owners, in 1836, only 837. Of these three hundred 
and two now owned 1 machine each, in 1831, 700 ; now two hundred 
and three owned 2 ; one hundred and two, 3 ; sixty- two, 4. ; forty- 
eight, 5 ; twenty-one, 6 ; fifteen, 7 ; thirteen, 8 ; fourteen, 9 ; six, 10 ; 
seven, 11; six, 12; ten, 12 to 20; nine, 20 to 30; six, 30 to 40; 
five, 40 to 50; two, 60; one each 70, 80, 100, 120, 170, and one, 
200 machines. Thus more than five hundred owners of 1, 2, and 
3 machines each, had disappeared; principally owners of the 400 
narrow pushers, traverse warps, and Levers', and 800 narrow cir- 
culars, that had been withdrawn from the trade since 1833. 

The change in the kinds of goods produced in these two eventful 
transition years was from plain almost entirely ; 200 frames in 
1833 only making fancies out of 5000; but in 1836, 1000 out of 
3800. This is an important fact, shewing the tendency of the 
scientific skill at work to be now rapidly taking its only safe direction ; 
and which before another twenty-five years had elapsed put an 
entirely new face upon this manufacture, by the general use of the 
Jacquard and other consequent improvements, in making fancy 
goods. 

There were in 1836 at work, 

152 traverse warp, 165 pushers, 317 

1293 rotaries making plain, 247 quillings, 47 fancies 1587 

116 circulars making plain, . 114 quillings, 188 fancies 418 

16 Levers' making plain, 761 quillings, 448 fancies 12'J.j 

1425 1122 683 3547 

And about 253 standing or not enumerated. Total at work 3547. 
Gross total, 3800. 



STATISTICS. 



343 



In 1836 there were in Nottingham and its vicinity 372 machines 
making plain net, 1006 quillings, and 784 fancies, altogether 2162; 
in Leicestershire and Derbyshire 399 plain, 86 quillings, and 113 
fancies ; altogether 598 ; in the west of England and Isle of Wight, 
654 plain, 30 quillings, and 103 fancies, altogether 787. There were 
therefore then 1425 making plain net, 1122 quillings, and 1000 
fancies machines. The widest and quickest frames now made 30,000 
meshes a minute. In 1835-6 it was stated in the report, on good 
grounds "that by the change in the employment of machines to 
make fancy work, in consequence of the pressure on the prices 
of plain goods and the application of Jacquard and other apparatus 
acting similarly on machinery, 1000 machines were raised in those 
years from the price of old iron (2 to 10 each) to the value of 
50 to 100 each, and 1500 to 2000 of the best hands were employed 
on them at an advance of 50 to 100 per cent, in their wages; adding 
also to the returns of these machines alone 300,000 per annum. 
Altogether a fresh and marked impulse was given to ingenuity and 
effort throughout every department of the manufacture. The raw 
materials consumed in 1836, cost 210,000; the final returns were 
computed to be about 2,212,000. Of this sum only about 350,000 
was paid for English embroidery. The changes then beginning 
in the kinds and -locality of employment, ensuing on the putting 
in pattern by the machine instead of by the hands of the lace runners, 
and which has never since ceased its operation, rendered it impossible 
to give any near approach to the numbers actually employed on either 
the new kinds of work or the old. The revolution has been almost 
complete throughout the whole process. Of the entire production 
of this trade, about one-half was exported in 1836, instead of three- 
fourths as in 1832. The number of persons employed in selling 
the rough production to finishers has much lessened. The finishing 
houses, 114 in number, now passed about half their goods through 
London to their ultimate destination. 

Several incidents occurred from time to time pub- 
licly indicative of the fluctuations of the bobbin net 
trade. The desire broke out into action repeatedly for 
some years upon each access of trade stagnation, for 
the regulation by committees of the working hours 
of the trade, or of some branch specially affected. 
Thus, in 1831, a stint to eight hours daily labour was 
nominally agreed upon, but after a fortnight's trial 
ceased ; the journeymen declined for a time to return 
to more than twelve hours' labour, and resolved to form 
a Lace-maker's Union. In 1832, a short stint was 
carried into effect by the conjoint efforts of masters 
and workmen. The government was also memorialised 
by the committee with an expression of earnest desire 
for reciprocal free trade with France. The injurious 
effects of many and conflicting patent rights was also 



344 THE BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 

a topic now beginning to engage considerable attention 
in the trade. Another stint was attempted ineffectually 
of the Nottingham bobbin net frames, though persevered 
in at Loughborough for some weeks. The journeymen 
put forth a 'regulated' list of wages, amounting to 100 
per cent, advance. This being refused, some windows 
were broken at Carrington. 

It was thought that the interests of the local staple 
and other trades might be advanced by opening a 
hosiery, lace, and yam exchange, in connection with 
a corn exchange, and the establishment of a chamber 
of commerce. These ideas have been in succession 
carried into effect. Another memorial, signed by 2500 
persons, was presented to government, stating their 
increasing desire for the admission of English lace into 
France, and that of France into England, on a reciprocal 
basis or entire mutual freedom. To which the minister 
replied, "the government desired reciprocity, but could 
not force it." Dr. Bowring was then negociating on 
this subject, and expressed his belief that the free import 
into France of our lace would be ceded in twelve months 
from that time. The trade was so depressed as seriously 
to distress the workmen, many of whom did not earn 
through 1834 more than Ss. a- week. They earnestly 
pressed upon Sir John Hobhouse, M.P. for Nottingham, 
a bill " for regulating wages by the decisions of a 
Board composed of selected masters and men, and 
making a scale thus agreed upon, binding on the trade 
upon its receiving the signature of a magistrate." This 
plan he declined to sanction. These proposals for 
legislation in respect to the consideration and adjust- 
ment of questions as to wages and trade matters, led 
the author to make a translated Analysis of the Laws 
and Constitution of the French Conseils des PrucV homines, 
which was published in 1834. How far and in what 
manner courts of arbitration, whether constituted legally 
or on a purely voluntary basis, can be made to work 
efficiently and satisfactorily for both parties, in adverse 
as well as prosperous states of trade, is still one of the 
great questions, social and commercial, of the day ; the 
solution of which would almost seem more distant than 
over. Measured by the grave differences between cm- 



COURSE OF THE BOBBIN NET TRADE. 345 

ployers and employed, its magnitude and importance 
cannot be too highly estimated, and in proportion we 
hail with pleasure the amount of success attendant upon 
the operation of the hosiery board of conciliation of 
which we shall give an account in a future chapter. 

In the distress of 1834 the owners of the 1100 quilling 
machines stinted their time, raised a fund of 2000, and 
maintained their prices. The like was attempted 
amongst the plain net owners, but without success. 
The reason for not assenting given by one great maker, 
was that " small makers lowered prices by their neces- 
sities, and ought to be driven out." Next year, however, 
1835, a stint of hours took place, including the machines 
of the house just referred to, and the regulation of 
prices was carried out for two months; 1300 plain net 
frames worked only eight hours a-day, when a sudden 
revival of demand set all fully to work again. 

The chamber of commerce, lately established, me- 
morialised the Board of Trade upon the occasion of 
great distress amongst English lace embroiderers, which 
it was averred arose from the facility with which foreign 
embroidered goods were imported by smuggling into 
England. Ample proof was offered, shewing that the 
charge by smugglers into England was 5 to 7 per cent, 
only; while, by the superior vigilance and activity of 
the French officers of customs, the charge on their 
frontier was 50 per cent, for similar goods. The ques- 
tion was a very unpalatable one to Mr. J. D. Hume, 
Secretary at the Board. He spoke to the members of 
Parliament who introduced the deputation, of "this 
dab of Nottingham lace standing in the way of more 
important interests ;" which drew from Mr. Heathcoat 
the remark "that it employed a capital of two millions, 
and gave work to probably 150,000 hands, making a 
return of three millions annually, therefore was not to 
be altogether frowned upon" a statement more than 
confirmed by Mr. James Fisher then present, and 
rendered effective by Mr. J. E. Denison declaring "if 
the matter were not taken in hand by the customs 
authorities, he should feel it his duty to mention it in 
the House." Mr. Dean, chairman of the custom board, 
was surprised at the facts placed beyond doubt by the 



346 THE BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 

invoiced charges being produced and he took steps to 
set the business in a more satisfactory position for a 
time. In 1837, the general money panic and pressure 
bore with especial weight upon the hosiery and lace 
business of Leicester, Derby, and Nottingham. At 
the latter place a subscription of 5000 was raised 
to assist the poor ; parochial assessments were made, 
varying from 7s. 6d. to 12s. 6d. in the pound, and two 
thousand houses were untenanted ; private benevolence 
was also exercised in a most effective manner. In 
October, only one-fourth of the machinery in either 
staple trade was employed, and that only working half 
time. The quilling machines were entirely stopped. 
Many heavy failures took place, and the chamber of 
commerce was broken up. An endeavour to get a 
general cessation of working of the machinery of the 
trades was not responded to ; it being evident that even 
occasional employment of limited amount was of im- 
portance, when every fifth family was pauperised. Any 
orders that could be obtained must be executed without 
delay. At the " relief" meetings held in this disastrous 
year, the question was much discussed, "whether, as 
reciprocity in our trading with foreign nations appeared 
to be unattainable, the interests of employers and em- 
ployed would not be best secured by a return to high 
protective duties and the adoption of a scale of re- 
muneration for labour more adequately compensative to 
the artizans when in employment." The opinions of 
the workpeople were strongly in favour of this view 
of the matter. Amongst employers there was greater 
diversity. 

The author, considering it the more practical way 
of meeting it, and endeavouring to forecast the future, 
took that occasion to propose as means of securing in 
due time results highly beneficial to the trades of 
Nottingham and its sister towns the establishment of 
schools of design ; collections of models, patterns, and 
drawings; an alternate annual exhibition of the pro- 
ductions of the three counties ; the adoption of measures 
for securing inventors' and trades' rights respectively, 
together with other measures, whereby the taste of 
fancy designers and the fabrics from our looms might be 



MODIFICATIONS OF MACHINERY. 347 

improved ; and then while making machine-wrought 
hosiery and lace more and more worthy of approval by 
the leaders of fashion taking well considered steps to 
bring them with effect under their notice, and that 
of the general mass of consumers. 

Articles advocating these views and especially point- 
ing out the impossibility of safely depending for the 
employment of the vast body of lace machinery, upon 
the continued demand for plain net ; and asserting that 
its real ground of permanency was in the production 
of close imitations of pillow lace were inserted from his 
pen, at short intervals, for some years in the local press. 

With reference to mechanical improvements since 
1820 in the manufacture of lace, the following additional 
modifications of the double-tier circular machines have 
been made : 

Jackson and Henson, of Worcester, in 1824, introduced the fluted 
rolling lockers moving carriages, having corresponding teeth. The 
lockers turned both ways by a segment. The movements are exceed- 
ingly swift in this frame. 

In 1825, William Harvey improved the working of the machine 
by making the combs work more steadily. Other modifications 
of this excellent working mechanician will be noticed as they 
occurred. No one understood bobbin net machinery better than 
Harvey, and his personal qualities caused him to be highly re- 
spected. He died at Carrington a few years ago in humble, but 
comfortable circumstances. 

William Shepherd, in 1831, constructed a single locker circular 
comb machine for making breadths, using a back plate riding on back 
combs and cut in long nicks. The plate pressing sideways on breadth 
carriages, prevented their advancing in the traverse motion and thus 
divided the net. At the time, this plan was a step in advance. 

In 1832, Allcock, of Worcester, patented No. 6343, a rolling locker 
frame having two outward rollers, acting by a double segment, and 
made to move more slowly than the inner rollers, avoiding over- 
shooting the carriages. 

Joseph Litchfield, of Nottingham, produced spotting on a circular 
comb frame, by letting the carriages remain on both bolts and making 
spots by drawing spotting carriages by extra back and front pushers, 
and having only the usual point bars. By the action Fisher v. Dewick, 
this was decided to be an infringement on Sneath's spotting patent. 

The pearl on the edge of machine-made laces had 
been stitched on by the needle with great care and 
expense, until about 1827 or 1828, when Marmaduke 
Miller, of New Basford, produced a good imitation of 
cushion-made pearl upon narrow edgings. This was 



348 THE BOBBIN NET LACK TRADE. 

the first instance of success in regard to this important 
and difficult, though at first sight, seemingly minor part 
of a breadth of narrow lace. This was effected by him 
on the pusher machine, and having a bullet-hole on the 
edge of it, required the finish of a thick thread with the 
needle. Its introduction to the trade required some 
time and effort, but was brought about by Mr. "W. B. 
Carter, and the demand soon became general. Levers' 
and circulars were soon put on to add a pearl, which, 
though not so lacy in structure, was of a more perfect 
loop-head. This improvement led the way to greater 
widths and much superior patterns. The inner sides of 
lace open works are now pearled on the machine. 

In 1832, Mr. Miller arranged the pusher so as to work thick 
threads in various devices by using extra guides, operated upon by 
eccentric wheels ; thus pusher tattings were produced. 

This clever mechanician has not confined his abilities 
to lace machinery. He and his family, though brought 
up amongst the noisy machinery of these trades, have 
been thoroughly musical for at least three generations. 

About 1836, one Davis, a workman, aided by others, 
arranged a machine 

By breaking out a part of the main guides and attaching others to 
a separate bar so as to take their place working it by a wheel, and 
thus interwove threads making cloth work taping on the edges of 
quilling nets. 

This assisted to open the way to further ornamenting 
lace, by using the chain wheel in various ways. 

A patent, No. 6412, was taken out in 1833, by J. 
and F. Smith, of Nottingham, for making quillings from 
circular machines. 

In this the carriages had upper nebs moved by catch bars and 
under nebs acted upon by double lockers, using pickers to select 
dividing carriages. This plan was long worked at Chesterfield. 

In 1836, No. 7219, and in 1845, No. 8362, patents for 
chains operating on bars, were taken out by the same 
parties. 

About this time, Cook, of Loughborough, put together 
a machine, the carriages in which were propelled by 
two fluted rollers. It could not make breadths. Nothing 
more seems to be known of it than that from its speed, 
actual or proposed, it was called "the high-flyer." 



MODIFICATIONS OF MACHINERY. 349 

Though some expected this plan would supersede all 
others, on Mr. Paget quitting the lace business it was 
laid aside finally. 

Harvey made on circular bolt, in 1837, wire-ground 
having arched shaped meshes using four guide bars. 
And in 1839 he invented 

An apparatus for making silk figured laces, by putting in threads 
which could be withdrawn, thus leaving large holes which were 
afterwards filled up by the needle with thread imitations of fish-nets. 

The plan, on which he employed four machines (his 
wife doing the needlework) was used for a time, but 
died with Harvey. 

Thomas Alcock, of Claines, near Worcester, took 
out a patent in 1836, No. 7032, so multifarious in its 
objects and plans as to fill one hundred and eighty-three 
closely printed pages with the specification, and to re- 
quire thirty-one sheets of drawings, mostly of the largest 
size, filled as closely as possible with illustrations. 
Sheets, No. 27 and 28, containing the front and back 
views of this " improved Levers' spotting machine," 
are commended to the examination of any one curious 
as to intricate inventions ; being another surprising ex- 
ample of what self-taught mechanicians have constructed 
thirty years ago, in this wonderful department of genius 
and skill. 

This patent, Alcock states to be partly for improvements on 
inventions patented by him in 1832 and 1835 ; applicable to traverse 
warp machines; to making spots on traverse warp fluted rollers rotaries; 
to producing spots on Levers straight down net, called Mechlin 
spotted net ; also an improvement of Henson and Jackson's fluted 
roller circulars by using 14-point comb, and 7-point guides and points ; 
and in single-tier fashion, producing spots &c. ; also making spots on 
double-tier machines making straight down net. He further specifies 
an imitation of Valenciennes hand made lace, being a four-sided 
twisted mesh of two threads not traversed and ornamented with spots 
made on a Levers' machine, also the same mesh and spotting made 
on a fluted roller frame working single-tier ; also the same working 
double-tier. He goes ^n to specify spots made on circular bolt 
traverse net in such manner that ' figure of eight' weavings of pairs of 
warp threads should form the spots, and the like manner of forming 
spots on the single-tier Levers' machine ; this specially by the use of 
bullet hole apparatus, particularly that kind of 'turn again' combs 
patented by and known as Sumner's patent machinery. Finally he 
describes fluted roller niachiiu'ry to be worked with single-tier combs 



350 THE BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 

and bobbin carriages by two fluted rollers and comb-bars so disposed 
as to produce other fabrics than bobbin net, in the nature of 
weavings, tapes, or ribands of cloth work texture. 

This specification includes a description of eleven 
distinct modifications of bobbin net machinery, in 
each of the three principal classes or combinations of 
them all. 

In 1835, there were about 1100 machines employed 
in making cotton bobbin net in breadths. These were 
called l quillings ' or l plaitings,' because used quilled or 
plaited about the head and shoulders. The demand 
for them was very much reduced for some years by a 
device adopted at this period of difficulty in the lace 
trade with a view to lessened cost and underselling, on 
the part of one or two engaged in this branch, whose 
cupidity jeopardised for a long time the character 
and consumption of the article. The process adopted 
was simple enough. The size of the mesh can be made 
nearly regular throughout the whole of the piece by 
adjustment from time to time of certain wheels in the 
machine. Without this, the increasing size of the work 
roller will cause the size of the holes to increase, till at 
the last end the piece will be more open in quality to 
a marked degree. Breadths are put up for sale in cards 
heavily pressed and banded ; to undo which, before 
arriving at the retail counter, would spoil the sale. 
They are therefore bought on the faith placed in the 
seller. At that time these exceptional parties caused 
the goods to be made in this irregular way, and unjustly 
put them up with fine faces at top and bottom of the 
cards, the insides being of coarser qualities. 

An attempt to introduce the like plan was made, in 
regard to plain wide cotton nets : but was effectually 
put down by the trade as soon as known. The fact and 
its results on the cotton quilling demand, are given 
here as a noteworthy example of the power of wrong 
doing on the part of even a single individual in the 
first instance, to influence demand and injure a trade. 
Under the sometimes excessive competition in business, 
too much care and determination cannot be exercised 
in any trade to keep up the soundness and real quality 
of the articles forming the staple of its productions. 



EXPORTATION OF MACHINERY. 351 

An account of the proceedings taken by the lace manu- 
facturers of Nottingham for the purpose of rendering 
effective the laws against the export of their machinery, 
will close this chapter ; bringing our narrative of events 
transpiring in the trade, down to 1835-6 the period 
of its greatest depression previous to the close of the 
year 1866. 

The large increase known to have taken place in 
the introduction of English bobbin net machinery into 
France, and its rapid transfer after the breaking down 
of the restriction of working hours, in 1829, led to the 
appointment of a committee in 1832, and the holding 
several public meetings of the trade with a view to 
take measures to prevent the continuance of the export 
of machines, and consequent increase in foreign com- 
petition. Long existing Acts of Parliament had pro- 
hibited the export of machinery of various kinds ; as 
that of William III., 1695, which fined exporters of 
knitting machines in a penalty of 200, and punished 
them with twelve months' imprisonment; and its ex- 
tension in 1718 to all other kinds of machinery used 
in silk, cotton, and linen manufactures, adding a penalty 
of 500 on persons seducing artificers to leave the 
kingdom. These acts were, during the following sixty- 
six years, confirmed; and in 1785 they were extended 
to include engines, tools, and utensils used in con- 
structing machinery. 

After the conclusion of the long and expensive war 
in 1815, the heavy burthens of which were mainly 
sustained by the profits realized by the employment of 
greatly improved labour-saving machines, there was 
gradually manifested a disposition to relax in the vigi- 
lant and strict execution of these laws. Licenses to 
export machinery were granted on exceptional pleas 
without enquiry; and artizans transferred themselves 
with their skilled training to foreign countries : that part 
of the law which forbade their emigration, after a parlia- 
mentary enquiry, being repealed in 1825. The com- 
mittee sat again next year, and recommended the repeal 
of the rest of the statute, which the House of Commons 
at that time declined to do. The practice of licensing 
became more common, and countenanced the decreasing 



352 THE BOBBIN NET LACE TKADE. 

vigilance of the custom officers in regard to this (to 
them) difficult and obnoxious duty, while it gradually 
made way for the practical carrying out of the cherished 
theory, that there is no difference in principle, and 
ought to be none in practice, between free trade in 
goods, and freedom to export our machinery and the 
tool making machines also. The bold and unscrupulous 
way in which this contraband trade was carried on 
after the cessation of the bobbin net patent monopoly, 
at length caused public opinion and feeling in the 
midland counties to take a more decided form. The 
meetings above spoken of appointed two permanent 
committees : a secret committee, to ascertain the re- 
moval of machines with their intended destinations, 
and to take measures for their seizure if going abroad, 
the members of which committee should be guaranteed 
from* legal consequences : and a financial committee 
to receive, manage, and pay funds subscribed for 
this purpose. Within a month every principal house 
in the trade signified their adhesion, as did the 
body of journeymen also. It was at this time, that 
Gravener Henson drew up a memorial to the Lords 
of the Treasury, signed by the owners of more than 
3000 machines and 4000 workmen on this important 
and difficult subject; which for fair statement of argu- 
ment, skill in handling, diligent research, and nervous 
diction, would bear fair comparison with any document 
presented to the minister of the day. A solicitor of 
eminence was appointed. Mr. Heathcoat, Sir John 
Hobhouse, Sir Eonald Ferguson, Mr. John E. Denison, 
and other members of Parliament, gave their aid in 
applications to government, by whom these deputations 
were civilly but very coldly received. Besides the 
machinery, for the export of which treasury licenses 
were obtained, to nearly every shipping port round the 
island, parts of machines were sent ; if seized, they were 
sold at the price of materials, because useless there for 
anything else; but when got abroad, were rejoined 
to the other parts, so making complete machines. A 
general notice was given at these ports, of the illegal 
nature of these shipments, and government was pressed 
to carry out the law against them by its own officers ; 






EXPORTATION OF MACHINERY. '!.">; 5 

it was evident that local bodies had neither means nor 
power equal to the task. Nevertheless, the committee 
sought to strengthen their influence upon the authorities 
by a union with the manufacturers of Birmingham, 
Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, &c., which was but faintly 
accorded. 

In the summer of 1832, Mr. William Morley, a 
partner with Mr. John Boden in the large bobbin net 
manufactory at Derby, being upon a tour in France 
and Belgium, obtained the best insight in his power 
into the amount of similar machinery at work in those 
parts. He stated the results of his enquiries thus : 
Calais 700, Cambray 400, Lisle 170, Douay 200, St. 
Quentin 150, and 380 in other places; making a total 
of 2000 machines. This summary was sufficiently im- 
portant to further direct the attention of the trade to 
machine exportation. A machine was seized in 1834, 
but given up to the intending exporter by the Crown. 
Several others which were seized, were in like manner 
given up at the out ports, " proof of intention to export" 
being laid upon the informer and those who made the 
seizures. The Board of Trade declined to sanction any 
seizure five miles from a port. Upon which an appli- 
cation was made for a bill, to more effectually stop 
the export of machinery. The funds of the committee 
were now exhausted ; they retired from further active 
opposition, but continued to watch events. Exportation 
of machines to France, Germany, and Russia, imme- 
diately recommenced on a large scale, 5000 worth 
lay at one time at a single wharf in London, and the 
execution of an order for 2000 more waited for models 
and drawings of every process then in course of pre- 
paration. 

In January, 1835, an action was instituted by a Mr. 
Faber against GL Henson, for the illegal seizure of 
a machine in 1833, which the Crown had restored to 
Faber on submitting to his acquittal. The plaintiff was 
probably supported in prosecuting Henson by a body 
of persons interested abroad, either in machinery or 
in its transit by fraud. The attorney general was 
retained by him. Henson had adhered strictly to his 
instructions ; it had been seized by the excise ; he had 

AA 



354 THE BOBBIN NET LACE TRADE. 

afterwards identified it. The few members of the 
secret committee, his employers, shrunk from the re- 
sponsibility both individually (for the committee had 
expended its funds) and as representing the trade. The 
trial was put off by the plaintiff on frivolous grounds 
three times ; we, though not of the five, furnished Henson 
with funds, that his cause might not be lost for lack 
of means, and so "the town gaol be his lot." At 
length, on June 23rd, 1835, " having fought a hundred 
trade battles at home and elsewhere," he determined 
to conduct his defence himself, and without any friend 
present, he took his seat in court, with books and 
papers, "to do that for others, which," he says, in 
a letter addressed to us the day before, " I am afraid 
few men would do for me, namely, protect them from 
the consequences of their own acts." This he must 
have the credit of doing, and in a most skilful and 
determined manner. The real object of the plaintiff was, 
to get hold of the undertaking given by the secret 
committee to hold him harmless in his proceedings 
carried on by their directions. This he resisted, sup- 
ported by the sympathy of the bar; and after long 
and powerful argument, Lord Abinger said " he would 
be no party to bringing fresh suits" (i.e. against the 
members of the secret committee, who were men worth 
shooting at) ; " indeed, if they got the instructions, 
they would have to prove malicious intention. They 
had better take a non-suit" a suggestion which was 
acquiesced in to the satisfaction apparently of most 
present. This result relieved the secret committee 
from their disagreeable position. But with the meed 
of admiration for this self-denying act, then and 
always expressed by the author, Henson had to rest 
content. It was his only repayment ; except the fund 
of enjoyment derived from his triumph over the chief 
law officer of the Crown. Some may read these lines, 
who will feel that he did not deserve all the disparage- 
ment that has been cast upon his name. 

A committee of the House of Commons sat in 1841, 
upon an enquiry into the exportation of machinery. 
At the request of a public meeting held in Nottingham, 
three gentlemen went up to give evidence against it. 



EXPORTATION OF MACHINERY. 355 

In the next session the laws forbidding it were entirely 
repealed. 

In 1836, there were 1863 machines for making 
twist lace in Nottingham and its suburbs. By 1840, 
80 of these had been exported, besides 143 new insides ; 
485 had also been broken up, and 50 new machines 
had been built meanwhile at Nottingham. 



( 356 ) 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



THE JACQUARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

A NEW developement of the bobbin net lace trade 
has taken place since 1835, by the general application 
of pierced bars and the use of the Jacquard apparatus 
on the principle of individual selection of threads in 
fancy machines. The era of ornamenting lace in the 
process of making upon the frame has now been fully 
ushered in. The results are new, striking, and of the 
utmost importance. All articles from the narrow lace 
edging to the two yard wide store curtain requiring 
many thousands of cards to complete the design, are now 
as familiarized to our draughtsmen, mechanicians, and 
workpeople, as they were unanticipated by them forty 
years ago, or as to taste, workmanship, and beauty by 
the purchasers of lace goods only twenty years since. 

The local School of Art and Design has been far 
more effective in promoting knowledge of the principles 
which govern taste in the choice of drawings, with a view 
to their successful application in the peculiar tissues of 
lace, than was once thought possible. It is but compara- 
tively a few years since the idea was first broached in 
the press of Nottingham, that such an institution was 
absolutely necessary to secure the interests of the lace 
trade and of the town. The artizans of the district are not 
now, in respect of appreciation of the beauty of a pattern, 
like the same class of men they then were. Considering 
the difficulties inherent in a tissue composed of interstices 
large and small, of fine and heavy cloth work often 
uniting to produce effect by thick threads surrounding 
or veining a pattern, many of the floral and arabic 
styles now familiar to the designers in the larger estab- 
lishments (in several of which an expence of 1000 a- 
year is incurred), will bear comparison as to light, shade, 




SINGLE TIEiW MAKING FANCIES. 



357 



contour, and effect with the elaborate works of the oldest 
schools in manufacturing art. In this respect the trade 
is placed on a surer basis than it was before. 

It has been seen that plain bobbin net is made by 
the to and fro movements of the carriages and their 
bobbin threads, together with the lateral motions of 
the various sets of threads, whether warp or bobbin. 
Figured or fancy net is produced by the like movements ; 
only instead of being of the whole of each set, and 
constantly similar in their operation, in making fancy 
nets, some are stationary, some pass between the warp 
threads, some are shifted laterally to the extent of one 
mesh, some to the distance of two, three, or more 
meshes ; some to the right, some to the left ; the warp 
threads too, instead of being separated into two divisions 
only, are separated into many, each of which . is sus- 
ceptible of the lateral movement independently of the 
others. It is by modifications of these lateral move- 
ments that all the numerous varieties of machine made 
lace are produced ; such as cloth work or fining, open 
mesh work or bullet hole, thick threads surrounding or 
veining flowers or leaves, besides the great number of 
different meshes, blonde, Mechlin, Brussels, Valenciennes 
and others. A great portion of the present complexity of 
the machine, as contradistinguished from its previously 
simplified condition for making plain net merely, is due 
to the mechanism by which these lateral movements are 
produced. If the warp threads be placed in several 
divisions, each moving to the right or left independently 
of the other, and if the bobbin threads are similarly 
classed in several divisions, each moving without refer- 
ence to the others ; it follows that an almost infinite 
variety of movements may be brought about, and it is 
not difficult to see that these movements must govern 
the manner in which the bobbin threads twist round the 
warp threads, as well as how the different systems and 
sizes of warp threads are made to enter into the outline 
and body of the pattern required. 

When the movements of the systems, into which the 
warp and bobbin threads are divided, are intended to 
be regular and constant, and of the whole of each 
set, then they are produced by the eccentric surfaces 



358 THE JACQUARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

of wheels operating directly on the bars controlling- 
each class or set. But when the movements are to be 
irregular and arbitrary, as in fancy and ornamented 
lace, then it is by means of bars attached to springs or 
levers placed at the ends of the machine, that the various 
sets of warp threads, whether those sets be fifty or five 
hundred, are made to move laterally ; each bar being 
of steel and as long as the machine is wide ; and each 
pierced with holes answering exactly to the particular 
threads in the pattern, which are, by being passed 
through these holes, to be guided by the bars to take 
the place assigned to them in the formation of the 
pattern. The levers or springs which pull or push the 
bars to or from the end of the machine, were themselves 
selected formerly by nobs on wheels or cylinders with 
irregular surfaces, but are now almost universally by 
a Jacquard apparatus. This may consist of a four, five, 
or six-sided roller; each side being perforated with as 
many holes as there are moveable pins or levers placed 
in a frame above the rolling cylinder. A number of 
oblong pieces of cardboard, from fifty to five hundred 
it may be, are connected together in an endless chain, 
and so arranged as to size, that when one of the cards 
is laid on one side of the cylinder, and the latter is made 
to revolve, the whole series will be brought successively 
in contact with the cylinder, each one lying temporarily 
on the flat upper side. Every card is pierced with holes 
varying in number and position, according to the pattern 
of the lace to be produced, but never more in number 
than the pins or levers above; and these holes are so 
cut as to coincide exactly with those of the cylinder. 
The cylinder has an up-and-down motion given to it on 
the presentation of the face of each fresh card, bringing 
it in contact with the pins, so that wherever a hole 
occurs in the card, it permits the pin opposite to it to 
penetrate into the cylinder ; but where a blank occurs, 
by the card not being perforated opposite to a particular 
pin, the pin cannot enter the cylinder, but is driven 
upwards. As the pins or levers act on the bars that 
move the threads in the machine, when any of the pins 
are driven upwards, some bars of the thread apparatus 
are moved laterally ; the disposition of the holes in the 




SINGLE TIEES MAKING FANCIES. 359 

cards determining the order and number of sliiftings of 
the threads. The number of cards employed depends 
on the number of successive movements requisite to 
form one complete pattern. In a store curtain, ten or 
twelve thousand cards may be required. The arbitrary 
selection of bobbin threads is brought about by acting 
upon the angular or raised parts on the surface of 
carriages by instruments called, from the duty they per- 
form pushers, stumps, selectors, &c., and so moving 
some carriages while others rest; or causing them to 
remain inactive, while the others are in motion. By 
these operations, brought about from below or above 
the combs, the power of the machine to diversify the 
course of the threads is evidently greatly increased. 
This kind of selection may be brought about by various 
mechanical arrangements ; often a second Jacquard 
apparatus from the back of the machine is employed. 
Notwithstanding the great width of the machine its 
complexity and intricacy, as well as the diversity and 
delicacy of the work to be performed the construction 
and adjustment is so solid and exact, as to render the 
ordinary operation safe. So long as the machinery 
works steadily and correctly, the workman may be a 
mere spectator; but he must be a vigilant one. His 
eye must ever and anon pass from side to side of his 
machine, noticing the thousands of threads, bobbins, 
carriages, points, and guides, passing in rapid motion 
before him. Soft, ill twisted, lumpy cotton yarns spoil 
his work while they stop his progress. An ill tied knot 
in winding may cut down threads, which if unseen may 
lead to damage that may cost the man days, and the 
employer pounds, to repair. An irregular warp of 
mingled fine and coarse silk, and which if unevenly 
reeled is almost certain to be foul also, will sometimes 
take three months to work off, requiring intense labour 
and care, instead of running smoothly to a finish in as 
many weeks. In the case of the silk net generally made, 
but especially in very light or irregular weights, the 
eyesight is much and prejudicially affected. In factories 
of modern construction, warmth, ventilation, and an 
atmosphere free from dust have been secured. The 
health of the workpeople employed in machine lace 



300 THE JACQUAKD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

making is on the whole satisfactory ; and if the practice 
of working by shifts in the night were discontinued, it 
would be superior to that in most other trades. In the 
manufacture of plain nets, the employment of the people 
is regular, except in some occasional times of- difficulty, 
when the trade has accumulated very heavy stocks. 
Under such circumstances, a general reduction has taken 
place for a time in the number of hours the machinery 
has been worked. But latterly the owners of factories 
cease working or stint the whole or any of their machines 
without consulting any one. This is entirely the case 
in the fancy business, and is frequently adopted as to 
a single machine. The workmen also lose time on a 
change of pattern ; which, in the case of those engaged 
in the Levers and warp lace branches, frequently causes 
a lengthened, and to the masters as well as man, an 
expensive delay. 

Amongst the earliest and most ingenious, though 
not most successful pioneers of this great advance, 
Mr. Draper was as energetic and sanguine as any. 
Two patents, having together a most important bearing 
in this respect on the interests and progress of the 
manufacture of imitations of real lace on bobbin net 
machines, were taken out by " Samuel Draper, of White- 
moor, Nottingham," in his own name only, though 
assisted with capital by Mr. John Hind, in the years 
1834, No. 6683, and 1835, No. 6907. 

In the first patent he adopted a plan of traversing the bobbin 
threads every time they were passed through the warp threads, and 
thus made a handsome linen fabric. In this machine he used extra 
bars for the selecting of threads, and operated upon them by means 
of an organ barrel. 

Next year he patented the other machine, in which there were two 
sets of bobbins, arranged one over the other; the upper set being 
in single-tier steeple top carriages, the lower set being in d-ouUe-tier, 
also steeple top carriages ; the bottom set traversed having three 
comb-bars, the back comb-bars being divided into two bars. He 
traversed with the bottom set, and at first selected by using an organ 
barrel: but, it is said, seeing a Jacquard in the Lowther Arcade, 
London, he adapted it to the lace machine. The bottom tier of 
carriages were governed by drivers placed between the bolts, which 
selected any required carriage. By letting these bottom carriages 
remain stationary, or traversing them every motion, he made net, 
large open works, or cloth work. Between the two sets of carriages 
was placed a point bar, riding between the front bolts, having two 



MR. SAMUEL DRAPEK. 361 

lengths of points in front operated upon by the cards of the Jacquard 
cylinder ; when the holes in the latter are not covered by the card, 
the pins enter and the carriages remain at rest ; but when the holes 
are covered, the carriages are taken backwards, and are either tra- 
versed or are passed through the combs. The points enter the back 
line of threads, and then shog to the front line ; when the points are 
all entered, it then shogs to make the net. It is withdrawn and 
entered each time the carriages pass, the upper carriages making 
the net as in the straight bolt and in organ barrel machines. 

Many excellent patterns were made on this machine, 
but it did not work safely, and was very expensive 
in its construction. Although Mr. Heathcoat made a 
special visit to inspect it at Whitemoor, and so far took 
an interest in it as to purchase some right in the patent, 
and also had Draper at Tiverton for a considerable 
time, conducting some mechanical improvements there, 
yet the plan was finally abandoned. The outlay by 
Mr. Hind was many thousands of pounds. Mr. Heathcoat 
gained nothing by it. 

It has been stated above, that the accidental sight 
of a Jacquard led to its substitution by Draper for the 
organ barrel, as the means of selecting threads. Mr. 
Andrew Wilkie, a table linen manufacturer, came from 
Dunfermline, in Scotland, and settling in Nottingham, 
quitted his former business, and entering into that of 
making bobbin net, became possessed of four or five 
bobbin net machines. He ultimately co-operated in the 
experiments of Draper; and conjointly with Hind, it is 
said, supplied money for taking out the patents. Having 
been accustomed to the use of the Jacquard in his 
former manufacture, on the failure of the organ barrel, 
(he always asserted) it was at his suggestion, that a 
Jacquard apparatus was tried and eventually answered. 
His son therefore claims this honour on his father's 
behalf; who (he says) expended 650, a sum which came 
to him through his wife, and the whole of his machinery. 
Wilkie died soon after in humble circumstances. 

Draper's second patent was for the application of 
perforated substances to lace machinery. In taking out 
this patent, he said " he had in view the government 
or control of the individual threads across the machine, 
and this also on each of the several principles of the 
bobbin net machine." The plans for this purpose he 



362 THE JACQUARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

laid before Mr. Carpmael. The working out the patent 
on each of the classes of the machines would have been 
so expensive, and the time so long to have put them on, 
that it was considered one would be enough to secure to 
the patentee the exclusive use of the principle for the 
whole. Draper, having to consult the views and arrange- 
ments of others, was delayed and thwarted in getting 
the machinery to work, by circumstances beyond his 
own control. The plans became known. It was never- 
theless understood that tribute was to be paid him by 
those who used machinery constructed on the principle 
of his patent. He did not deny the merit (if the idea 
were not surreptitiously derived from his own) of Mr. 
Deverill's mode of application to and control of the 
guide bars ; or of any other that had been devised having 
that effect, by the operation of the Jacquard apparatus. 
He claimed the merit of shewing, that the application 
of Jacquard pierced cards, or of the use of nogs or 
raised points or surfaces acting on bars, was prac- 
ticable. 

The first scarf made by Draper on the Jacquarded 
bobbin net machine, is in the collection at South Ken- 
sington museum. The fellow to it, in the state it came 
from the machine, was retained by himself. 

Draper took out a patent in 1837, No. 7491, for 
using the Jacquard cards on warp machinery 

Including the plan of using a double number of threads, either 
for the purpose of increasing the firmness of the tissue produced by 
carrying the threads over the adjoining needles, and then returning 
them to the original needles one of the two threads being carried 
at the same moment to the right hand, the other to the left thus 
making a crossing and then back again. No traverse was obtained by 
this method, beyond carrying threads five needles to produce open work. 
It was the first step, however, towards obtaining one. Champollier 
worked this plan in France, but without success. In 1840 Draper 
patented, No. 8635, a further modification of his Jacquard application. 

This great problem of how most simply, easily, 
inexpensively, and perfectly, an entire control might 
be obtained over every thread at work in a machine 
so as that without going backwards (which it is evident 
those threads which are mechanically operated upon 
cannot do) they should be as completely under com- 
mand as those in the fingers of a pillow workwoman 



MR. SAMUEL DRAPER. 363 

was thus grappled with by Draper. He had not solved 
it when faith and money on the part of others failed 
him. The expence incurred had been very great, the 
means had been advanced very liberally ; but unhappily 
for the ingenious constructor, he could not perfect his 
results in time to prevent their exhaustion. Never- 
theless, these elaborate and diversified combinations of 
machinery having for their object what, the moment 
his attempts were seen, appeared to be certain of ultimate 
accomplishment were the true germs of that which 
has since been done by his successors, with great profit 
to themselves, and to both the bobbin net and warp 
trades. 

It has been the opinion of some, who from their 
experience in machinery were quite able to form a 
sound one, that had Draper persevered in using the 
straight bolt in 1831 (whereon he made lace all pattern 
with no meshes, traversing every time the carriages 
passed through the longitudinal threads) he would have 
produced an article in quality equal to pillow lace. On 
the straight bolt the carriages will remain at rest while 
the open work is made. In the circular, which he then 
adopted, he had to overcome the difficulty of the car- 
riages gravitating to the centre. 

In 1838, Draper devised a very curious plan, a 
description of which has been reserved for this place, as 
it contained a method of producing an imitation of 
real Alengon blonde laces, partly by machinery and 
partly by hand : 

A silk net wholly untraversed was made on a Levers' frame, from 
which net the warp threads could be drawn out at pleasure. On 
another Levers' machine was made a solid web of quillings, about ten 
holes wide. A warp and extra beam was used for draw threads. 
The carriages were divided, and while in front and back catch bar, 
a warp thread was shot in the full breadth, thus making a solid 
fabric. These two fabrics were used thus: The linen tissue was 
inserted on the lace, and was drawn by the needle in any required 
form, as it was capable of being lessened in width by drawing the 
warp threads together. The net threads were then extracted, and 
the cloth work shewed as if woven in, giving the appearance of the 
Normandy blonde cushion lace. 

But the needle-work made the cost higher than 
the real article. After three years expence upon it, 



364 JACQUARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

Mr. Hind, Draper's partner in these experiments, de- 
clined to make further outlay, and it was given up. 

The last modification made by Draper may be described as one 
by which warp threads were passed through beads holding them in 
a row of points ; the card being raised lifted the beads on which the 
warp threads fell into another set of points, which were moved by an 
eccentric wheel, different from that operating on the main guide 
bar points. 

This ingenious mechanician was living at Notting- 
ham in 1856, we regret to say in deep poverty. 

Six years after Draper's second patent, i.e. in 1841, 
Hooton Deverill took out a patent, No. 8955, which was 
alleged to be the first really successful application of 
the Jacquard apparatus to bars from the end of the 
bobbin net machine. This raised at once, and in a 
serious form threatening much litigation, the question of 
what in this respect were the rights acquired under 
Draper's patent just described. The staple trades, to 
the history of which these pages are devoted, have been 
the arena of more patents and discussions consequent 
upon them, than perhaps any other in the whole range 
of British manufactures. The one now before the reader 
is, even amongst them, remarkable for the points raised, 
diverse opinions given upon them, and the results ulti- 
mately arrived at. Some further details may therefore 
throw light on the operation of patents generally, when 
added to the other facts spread over these accounts of 
mechanical inventions. These will be best given by 
citing the questions put and the answers to them by 
Mr. Oarpmael in November, 1841, and by Mr. Newton 
in June, 1842. To avoid tedious repetitions, it must be 
understood, that where not otherwise stated, the reference 
is always to bobbin net machinery. To Mr. Carpmael 

" Question. A and B have invented a mode of working guide bars 
by Jacquard cards. Is it new to work these guide bars by Jacquard 
cards ; and if new, cuu the patentees claim generally to work guide 
bars and by Jacquard cards, or must they confine their claim to 
the mode they have invented ? 

" Ansiver. I have read specification of Draper's patent, 1835; 
of Crofts, 1836; White's, 1837; Crofts, March, 1840; Draper, 1840; 
and of Crofts, November, 1840, which I think are the only patents 
in which it is proposed to employ Jacquard cards in working bobbin 
net machinery ; and am of opinion that if A and B are the first 
to invent means of applying Jacquard cards to working these guide 



OPINIONS ON DRAPER'S PATENTS. 3(J.j 

)ars, they may safely claim the application of Jacquard cards to 
work these guide bars, and not confine themselves to the exact details 
by which that application is made. This mode of claiming invention 
was fully supported in Winter v. Wells ; Morgan v. Seaward ; Elliott 
v. Ashton, and in some other cases. On the other hand, if A and B 
have been anticipated by others in using Jacquard cards to work 
these guide bars, then they must only claim the peculiar mode by 
which they have applied them ; and it appears to me, that A and B 
will be obliged to confine their claim of invention to their novel mode 
of application, and must not claim the application, generally, of 
Jacquard cards to work these guide bars. For in the specification 
of Crofts, 1840, there is fully described the application of Jacquard 
cards to work these guide bars. 

" Question. There having before been several patents which 
relate to the use of Jacquard cards regulating the working of the 
threads in twist lace machinery, would guide bars worked by Jacquard 
cards be an infringement of any of those patents ? if so, which of 
them ? In what position do these various patents legally stand in 
relation to each other ? A and , wishing fully to understand their 
own position in respect to others, and the position of the trade in 
respect of their patent; and, generally, in the use of Jacquard 
machinery in combination with that of twist lace. 

"Answer. Draper, in specification of patent, 1835, claims to be 
the first to combine the properties of the Jacquard loom with twist 
lace machinery, and describes a mode by which it is carried into 
effect, such mode being so arranged as to act on the bobbin threads. 
But the patentee states he does not confine himself thereto ; as any 
or every of the threads may be governed by Jacquard cards. And 
he concludes his specification by claiming the combining Jacquard 
machinery with twist lace machinery, thereby producing a compound 
machine having the capacity or combined character of the two ma- 
chines. Under this specification, I can have no doubt that the using 
of Jacquard cards and machinery to work the guide bars of twist lace 
machines, would be an infringement of Draper's patent. And this 
opinion is based on cases already cited, besides Fisher v. Dewick, 
and Eussell v. Cowley, (in the last case the defendants were working 
according to a patent obtained by them) and many others; particularly 
the first lace case ever tried, Bovill v. Moore, wherein it was held that 
traverse warp bobbin net machines were an infringement of Heath- 
coat's patent ; and in fact, till Heathcoat's patent expired, every twist 
lace machine, if used without license, would have been held an 
infringement of that patent, The court considered that Heathcoat, 
having been the first who caused one system of threads to traverse 
and twist round another system of threads by machinery producing 
bobbin net, his patent was not to be judged of by the details by 
which that end was accomplished. At the same time, the traverse 
warp patent would have been good in law, had the patentee confined 
his claim of invention to traversing warp, thereby obtaining breadths 
of lace and other results, which were then very valuable. But the 
patentee could not have used the traverse warp machinery, without 
license from Heathcoat so long as his patent was unexpired. 

"I am also of opinion that Crofts' mode, described in patent of 
1836, of selecting bobbin threads by Jacquard cards and machinery, 



366 THE JACQUARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

if used without license would be an infringement of Draper's patent. 
Also White's mode, patented 1837, of working warp threads by 
separate intercepting instruments; worked by Jacquard cards and 
machinery. Also Crofts' mode of governing working threads, patented 
September, 1840, would each be infringements of Draper's patent. 
Also, that if Draper's mode, described in patent of 1840, of working 
warp threads by Jacquard card machinery be practised by any other 
person without a license, it would be an infringement. Also, that if 
the mode of using Jacquard cards to work warp threads described in 
Crofts' patent, November, 1840, be put to work without license under 
Draper's patent of 1835, that patent would be infringed. 

"I give no opinion of the position of A and j?'s patent in respect 
of this patent without knowing the particulars of A and ffs invention. 
In conclusion, I am of opinion that as Crofts, White, and A and B 
have obtained patents for peculiar modes of applying Jacquard ma- 
chinery, and cards to the working threads of twist lace machinery, 
Draper could not use without license under their patents, their 
respective modes for the application of Jacquard cards and machinery. 
"W. CAKPMAEL, Lincoln's Inn, 1841." 

The following opinion on the validity of the patent 
granted to Draper in 1835, was given by Mr. Newton, 
1842 : 

"In the specification of Draper's patent, in 1835, for 'improve- 
ments in producing plain or ornamental weavings,' the patentee 
describes a mode of adapting a Jacquard to work certain Levers' 
drivers for selecting certain of the bobbin carriages applicable for 
producing patterns in lace ; and he states at the end of this specifi- 
cation that he claims ' combining the properties of Jacquard looms 
with bobbin net machinery, whereby the cards or other perforated 
substances are caused to select any and every of the threads of the 
latter machinery, and cause some to be laid or woven into plain or 
ornamental weavings; and whereby a machine so constructed will 
partake of the capabilities of both these descriptions of machinery, 
and enable the workmen to produce a greater variety of weavings, 
plain or ornamental, than can be produced from either uncombined.' 
There seem to be several important legal objections to the validity 
of this patent, taking its title and specification together. But without 
entering into these, the main feature of enquiry is : Can the patentee 
maintain the exclusive use of the properties of the Jacquard applied 
to lace machinery, however modified, supposing all other parts of the 
patents sound? My opinion is that he cannot; and that, for the 
following reasons: 1st. The properties of the Jacquard are in the 
Dawson's wheels, long known and applied to lace machinery. Also 
in the chime barrel, the adaptation of which, to a lace machine, is the 
subject of his previous patent of 1834. 2nd. Plain and ornamental 
weavings have been produced before by various kinds of mechanism 
in lace machinery, and in ordinary weaving looms by the Jacquard. 
Therefore the novelty or improvement, if any, must be in the means 
of applying that old contrivance, the Jacquard, to a lace machine. 
For even supposing the product or quality of work produced ' plain 
or ornamental weavings' to be new, which is not the fact; still the 



OPINIONS ON DRAPER'S PATENTS. 367 

invention is not the 'weavings,' but the means of producing them. 
This must involve the ' modus operand^ by which such production is 
obtained, not the thing produced. This is certainly by combining 
the properties of Jacquard looms with bobbin net machinery, where- 
by ' certain improvements are produced, and certain results take place.' 
But how is this to be done ? Does the simple direction, that the 
properties of two old things are to be combined, give to the uninitiated 
sufficient information to enable him to effect the production sought? 
Certainly not. Therefore the patentee has very properly shewn the 
construction of apparatus whereby the object may be effected ; and 
this apparatus I take to be the matter of invention, for which alone 
the patent could be granted. The claim of combining the properties 
of Jacquard looms with bobbin net machinery is absurd, without 
a specific means of enabling the combination to work so as to pro- 
duce the fabric required. The patentee has set out one mode, and 
that is, his invention; all other modes of making the combination 
available, must be the subjects of distinct inventions ; for any other 
mechanical contrivance is not obvious from the specification. The 
patentee not having pointed out any leading feature, or general 
mechanical agent, whereby the Jacquard can be adapted to the various 
constructions of lace making machines. If it could be shewn that the 
essential matter of Draper's invention are the levers , acting upon 
certain of the bobbin carriages with their projecting arms A, operated 
upon by the Jacquard (which, I think, cannot be made to appear from 
the words of the patentee's claim); then it would follow, according to my 
views of the patent laws, and the practice of the courts, that all other 
modes, forms, and combinations of mechanism for connecting the 
principles of a Jacquard with a bobbin net lace machine, are open 
to the inventive world to modify and adapt as they please. 

"Draper has a subsequent patent 'for certain improvements for 
producing ornamental lace or weavings,' November, 1837, which is 
the adaptation of the Jacquard to warp machinery, and much in the 
same way as before adapted to bobbin net machinery ; and I think 
his general claim in this case may be answered by the same argument 
as before. 

"If it were necessary to say more on the main point above con- 
sidered, I would cite the opinions of several judges on this question : 
' If a specification be such, that men of common understanding can 
comprehend it to make the thing by it, it is sufficient ; but it must be 
such that they may be able to make the thing by the specification, 
and not by any new inventions or additions of their own.' ' A specifi- 
cation is insufficient if a man of ingenuity be required to supply its 
defects. If sensible men who know something of the business and 
mechanics in general cannot by the specification make the thing 
invented, it is not so described as to support the patent.' Query. 
Does the statement made in Draper's specification shew the mode or 
furnish the means of adapting the Jacquard properties to a Levers, 
a pusher, or any other differently constructed bobbon net machine? 
I think not. It only shews a mode of holding back and locking 
certain of the bobbins in a Morley's rotary. It does not appear to 
contemplate any movements of the bars as in Deverill's or Boot and 
King's. I will again quote one of the Judges: 'Articles of specifi- 
cation which denote intention only, and do not state the thing to 



368 THE JACQUARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

which it is to be applied, will not entitle a patentee to maintain an 
action for a breach of those articles ; for he cannot anticipate the 
protection before he is entitled to it by practical accomplishment.' 

"In conclusion I would add, that I think Draper must have felt 
this was the proper interpretation of the law as to inventions. For 
in September, 1840, he obtained another patent for 'improvements 
in the manufacture of ornamental twist lace and looped fabrics' by 
the adaptation of the Jacquard to work warp threads in a particular 
way; although in his patent of 1837 he has the wholesale claim of 
' the application of the system of selection by Jacquard cards to warp 
machinery or warp lace machinery for the purpose of governing and 
controlling the order in which threads are lapped on needles or worked 
in looped lace or looped woven fabrics.' 

"(Signed} W. NEWTON." 

It is probable that these widely differing opinions 
were given in answer to questions arising from the 
very important modifications of Hooton Deverill, when 
they were transferred to Messrs. Biddle and Birkin. 
In the face of the diversity and doubt thus opened 
up, these gentlemen practically and with praiseworthy 
public spirit, relinquished their patent rights, and by 
emancipating the trade, conferred the greatest benefit 
upon it at a period of unequalled depression in the plain 
branch, and when its freedom of action in the fancy 
department was most ardently desired. 

Mr. Richard Birkin was born at Belper in 1805. 
He was the son of poor parents. His father was a 
calico weaver, and his first ideas of mechanism and 
labour were connected with the shuttle and loom. He 
had but a limited opportunity of gaining knowledge at 
school, having been employed early in life in Messrs. 
Strutt's mill, where he laboured until he was seventeen 
years of age. During these years, his evenings were 
spent at home in reading, drawing, or contriving objects 
of utility, which were sources of improvement and 
pleasure to himself, and not unfrequently of profit to 
his family. In 1822, he removed to New Basford, a 
suburban village to Nottingham, then containing thirty 
houses or so. A relative named Blatherwick, hitherto 
a framesmith at Nottingham, was just entering into the 
manufacture of lace in this village, and under his in- 
structions, R. Birkin learned to work one class of 
bobbin net machines ; losing no time and endeavouring 
to become practically master of the several other kinds 



PLATE XVI 



23 




24 



25 



A GOATCH C 



MR. RICHARD BIRKIN. 369 

of construction. These machines were all of them 
originally very costly, complicated, slow, and difficult 
to work, as has been already seen. Yet they were each 
realizing 20 to 30 weekly to not a few of the owners, 
and wages of from 5 to 10 a week to diligent and 
clever workmen. Birkiii husbanded both time and 
money ; seizing the opportunity afforded by this epoch 
of frenzied excitement, when the wondrous rush of 
capital floAved into the trade, he took it at the flood ; 
and the tide, dexterously managed, led him on very 
rapidly to fortune. During the next few years, his 
aid and advice on mechanical matters were sought by 
most of the machine owners in that neighbourhood. 
In 1826, his employer Mr. Biddle offered him an advan- 
tageous partnership. It was accepted, and the con- 
nexion continued twenty-one years. At the end of that 
time his partner retired with an ample fortune, leaving 
Mr. Birkin the buildings and machinery necessary to the 
carrying on of the now large concern. By this time 
New Basford had become a town of 3000 inhabitants 
or more. It was a new place, a new people, and with a 
new occupation. In it were now many persons who 
had risen from humble occupations to be wealthy 
employers ; and some even corporators and magistrates. 
The principal of these, Mr. Birkin, has shewn no ordi- 
nary skill, shrewdness, and intelligence, combined with 
great perseverance and energy, in the pursuit of the 
manufacturing and commercial success with which his 
efforts have been crowned. Having always been dis- 
tinguished for his good taste and sound judgment in 
qualities and designs of lace goods, he was appointed 
juror on behalf of Nottingham for those articles in the 
International Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862. His com- 
prehensive reports on those occasions will be made 
use of in our subsequent pages. He has left private 
business in the hands of one of his sons, and for some 
years devoted himself with much assiduity to muni- 
cipal and magisterial duties, those of chief magistrate 
especially, to which has been recently added, that 
of a seat at the board of the Midland Railway 
directory. 

Amongst those who have been engaged with the 

B B 



370 THE JACQUAKD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

Lever machines, .perhaps no one has shown a more 
intimate knowledge of its capability of adaptation than 
Mr. Birkin. He was the first to arrange it so as to 
produce several classes of ornamentation of great im- 
portance, both in what they were in themselves, and 
in what they further pointed to as practicable. 

In 1828, Mr. Birkin accomplished making a pearl 
edge on Levers' breadth laces. Before this the pearl 
was stitched on. 

In 1836, he patented No. 7090, a method for pro- 
ducing spots and honeycombs without stoppages on the 
Levers' machine. He also devised a way to make 
ribbons of cloth work sideways on it, but did not pro- 
secute the plan. Having comprehended the powers of 
this machine and how they might be rendered most 
effective, he has closely imitated the most important 
classes of real laces upon it. Such are imitation 
Valenciennes arid woven edgings, silk Saxony edgings, 
black, coloured, white silk blonde, and other edgings. 
Mr. Hooton Deverill's patent, No. 8955, was bought 
by him ; and the plan of working Jacquard cards, not 
to the bottom set of carriages only as Draper's did, but 
most usually applied to bars at the end of the Levers' 
machine, was perfected, and soon became general. By 
this great improvement a new development of the trade 
took place. 

His confidence in the principle of producing first- 
class articles in quality and pattern has been well re- 
paid. In 1845, he put upon a machine a pattern pro- 
duced by Dawson's wheels, brought it out at 3s. 6J., it 
has gradually been reduced to 9t/., and still pays a fair 
profit. The machine has made no other pattern. An 
edging was brought out fourteen years ago at 3s. 9c7. 
The machine has made it ever since; it has fallen to 
9e?., and is yet paying a good profit. Black silk laces 
with fining, thick threaded, scolloped, and to which 
Birkin added perfect pearl edges, only needed a thread 
to be drawn to separate each breadth in a state finished 
for the market. These were made of best twisted silk, 
and were calculated to wear well. Another manu- 
facturer put in cotton warps, degraded the article, and 
ruined himself. From 1849 to 1851, R. Birkin altered 



MR. J. W. liAGLKY. 

machines at a cost of 80 to 120 each, and was 
repaid the outlay in a few weeks, using mohair as a 
material for lace. He was the first to do so, either 
in England or France. "Lama" and "yak" are only 
other names for lace of somewhat similar materials. 

John Woodhouse Bagley had one of the most 
singularly gifted mechanical minds that has ever been 
applied to the improvement of the bobbin net machine. 
By his adaptations of it, effecting the production of 
imitations of pillow lace of various and most intricate 
kinds, so close and perfect as almost to defy detection, 
and yet of chaste and elegant patterns, he proved his 
claim to stand in the first rank amongst those who have 
advanced the character and use of machine- wrought lace. 
(See Plate XV., Nos. 18, 19, 20, 21.) 

Bagley's various productions were shewn in the Ex- 
hibition of 1851, and were highly praised both by jurors 
and visitors. Again, in that of 1855, at Paris, the 
articles he exhibited obtained for him a high eulogium, 
and the only silver medal awarded in the class to a 
working mechanician. Though from the ardour of his 
temperament manifested in all that he did and said, 
whether in regard to mechanical, political, or any other 
subjects he laid himself open to be misunderstood; yet 
those who are well informed as to the progress of this 
trade will accord to Mr. Bagley the meed of unqualified 
praise for the variety, ingenuity, and usefulness of his 
modifications of this machine. In his boyhood he received 
a very imperfect education, scarcely using a pen beyond 
occasionally appending a clumsy signature. But his 
mind and memory were clear and strong enough to 
dictate in nervous, though somewhat ungrammatical 
English, in the year 1856, a document filling thirty-two 
pages of folio manuscript. The substance only of this 
paper can of course be given, but so much must not be 
withheld from the reader, of a curious and interesting 
chapter in the history of lace inventors and their in- 
ventions. It is headed, "A few particulars of the 
various steps by which I progressed in machinery." 
The facts, so far as can be ascertained, seem to be truly 
given, being on the whole in accordance with notices of 
them gathered from the trade : 

BB2 



372 THE JACQUARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

" When I was about sixteen, I left shoe-making which I had 
been taught, it being then in a very distressed state ; and, enquiring 
for work of Mr. Sansom a lace-maker, obtained it, he putting me into 
a straight bolt machine, in which I soon learnt to work. Having 
from a mere boy, helped my sister in all manner of platting and 
twisting, while she was engaged in making the first English Leghorn 
bonnets, I had gained complete mastery over the movements of 
threads, and readily saw how to get off the 'wrong twists' which was 
a frequent difficulty fallen into by the apprentice. I had very limited 
previous knowledge of the machine, or how to work it, and so had 
to get into the way of it as well as I could. 

"After this, I worked for five years with Mr. James Smith, of 
Hadford ; and assisted him in getting the first circular machine put 
on with ' Grecian net.' Though receiving no wages for twenty weeks 
labour, it was not time ill spent, a large amount of information was 
gained, very valuable to me; nevertheless, I left him and went to 
shoe-making again ; employed two journeymen, and was getting on 
very well. But I could not forget mechanical operations, so set 
to work and made a model of a ' twist' machine ; and began to sell 
plans for making nets (meshes) to any one, feeling myself able 
to do anything of this kind that was wanted. Giving up shoe-making 
finally, I went to work for Mr. Morley ; and offered to put him on 
with ' honeycomb' net, by putting into the machine ten or twelve bars. 
He laughed, and said ' more than four could not be got in.' The 
plan was submitted by me to Mr. William Crofts, at Mr. Fisher's, 
who expressed satisfaction with it. I was employed there on other 
work; till, finding a circular was putting on with turn agains, and 
open work without them, I left there. As there were till then no ' extra 
guide bars,' I determined to keep my plan to myself, and employed 
a smith to make these bars for me. A person named Peach having 
a small Levers' frame joined me ; advancing 40, and giving me 25s. 
weekly, to receive half the profit of the plan, which at length was 
got to work. I advertised further plans of meshes for sale, and 
received a threat of an injunction from Fisher. Then some negocia- 
tions took place ; but Peach sold the plan to the bobbin net mart 
for 100; of which, though I had a claim also for 23 for wages, 
no part was paid to me. The mart charged 2 a piece to any one 
using the extra guide bars. At that time ' plain blondes' were much 
used ; and these extra guides greatly facilitated their ornamentation. 
The demand for some years was very great for both my classes of 
goods ; much wealth was gained in Nottingham by them, while I was 
occasioned inexpressible trouble, and all I received was abuse and 
slander. I resolved now to act on my own account. My father lent 
me 10, and my wife's father 10, with which an old 'circular' 
was bought; the smithing in it I got done on credit. During the 
time this machine was getting to work, my sufferings from hunger 
and those of my wife who was then suckling our first child, were 
intense ; we were reduced to the deepest distress, so that for three 
months, we only ate meat once, and subsisted during several days 
upon water gruel without bread ; my father-in-law on learning our 
state, assisted to keep us from starving, for which we were very 
thankful. 

"The machine being completed and the first piece sold, Mr. Fisher 



MR. J. W. BAGLEY. 373 

sent me a note, charging me with an infringement ; but in conversa- 
tion said 'we want you in our employ.' I engaged with him and 
continued there for several years ; being employed in getting out 
new things, for which they obtained patents. My own machine above 
named, was worked by a man at my own house ; and on shewing 
things made on it to my employers, was promised rewards, but did 
not receive them." (By an agreement, dated 13th November, 1838, 
made between Fisher and Bagley, all the inventions of the latter 
were to be paid for by Fisher giving him 100 for any one patented, 
and 100 more if Fisher put up four machines on the adopted plan). 

" When I was specifying the traversed warp used on a circular 
machine, Mr. Carpmael's clerk gave me a bit (a quarter of an inch long 
and an inch wide) of Valenciennes lace, saying ' I think you can do 
it.' I took it home, shewed it my wife, and said 'I shall never go 
to sleep till I have made it.' Consequently, setting to work, I stuck 
to it till, to my surprise, my model and shirt were on fire ; my wife 
then thought it was time I went to bed. I did not stay long there, 
for as I lay, I thought of the double warp ; then said I, ' I have got it. 
I have got it !' I jumped out of bed, put up double warp threads, and 
before breakfast, had produced the mesh. 

"On the holiday given upon the day of Queen Victoria's corona- 
tion, with the assistance of Mr. Cutts and my journeyman, I put 
my own machine on with this lace, shewed it to Mr. Fisher, and 
then to Mr. Crofts. Something handsome was promised me, and 
after some demur, I specified it. The patent was taken out in 
William Crofts' name, 1838, No. 7638. 100 was given me and one 
license, as 'two or three machines' it was said 'would stock the trade.' 
Soon after, I left Mr. Fisher's employ, contrary to his wish. My 
first piece of this plat lace, (i.e. from his own frame) was sold at 
1. 15s. a rack; and was re-sold in small pieces, as samples, to 'twist 
masters.' The rest was disposed of to London shopkeepers chiefly. 
A large manufacturer handsomely gave me 20 for the mere remnants, 
for I could scarcely proceed for want of means. 

"Mr. Pearson, of Calais, sought an interview with me at Derby, 
shewed me a bit of lace, asking ' if I knew anything of that.' I told 
him it was of my own making. He wished to buy the plan on 
fair terms, and paid me 150 down, to be made 500 when a frame 
was finished and patented ; in six months an eight-qr. was at work and 
patented. From the bobbins being too tightly sprung it broke threads 
at first. I went over and remedied that, and the'goods were then easily 
made. Pearson got 2 a rack for two years, without change of the 
pattern ; the Paris buyer made a great sum Mr. Keenan told me 
'an independent fortune,' and the two journeymen to Pearson, each 
saved 700 out of his earnings. It was twelve months before a 
machine like it was got to work in Nottingham. The pattern was 
ticked round the cloth work, as it is now made in Nottingham. 
Mr. Fisher at one time had let sixty licenses at three guineas per 
week each ; he himself at the same time having many machines 
at work on with the same, and putting others on as fast as he could. 
(This tribute would be 163. 16s. a-year, whatever the width 
of the machines. From other sources statements have been received 
that the tribute paid was 1. per inch per annum of the width 
of the machine, which is more probable.) 



374 THE JACQUARD FANCY LACE MANUFACTURE. 

"I gave 300 for a circular machine, and put it with three others 
on with plat laces ; but all were beaten by the superiority of Levers' 
for this work. My own license I let to another. I then spent 150 
uselessly in an effort to put a pusher on with plat fancies. But 
I produced several other articles, which though they were of no 
advantage to me, have since been profitably worked by the trade. 

' ' Mr. Dunnicliff now sought me out. He wished to become 
connected with me. I had a seventeen-qr. machine not working for 
want of means. I sold him half of it for 100 cash, which being 
paid, the machine was sent to be worked at "Wild's factory ; I having 
previously produced upon it muslin cloth work and ornaments. Crofts, 
Dunnicliff, and myself went to take out a patent, in 1844, No. 10,390, 
for this invention ; though, until a specimen made on it was shewn 
by me at Carpmael's office, Crofts would not believe this ornamented 
lace could be made. Dunnicliff then persuaded me to put on machines 
with a substitute for light warp blondes at Page's, Carrington ; by 
which he afterwards stated to me, he and his partners gained 1000 
the first year. / did not get 40s. for doing it. I then put my old frame 
on with traversed net and looped fining. It answered for a time 
in the pusher demand, but soon ceased. Mr. Dunnicliff retired, under 
painful personal circumstances, from business for a time ; and my 
patent operations were stopped. On my machine, I afterwards made 
the first black silk figured shawls, so far as I know. They were sold 
to Mr. Ball, with whom Dunnicliff now was become connected. 
Other machines were better adapted by width and speed for pro- 
duction than mine, and my workmen became dissatisfied; so I was 
thrown aside in this article. I now bought two pusher machines 
for 40 ; sold one at once for 50 ; and then put on the other with 
fancies, and sold it for 300. The old frames were smashed, and 
sold for old iron. I resolved to go to America. 

"Before starting on that voyage, I took niy wife and son to Paris. 
"While there, I was shewn by Mr. Keenan, for the first time, Honiton 
sprigs ; and learnt the prices at which they were sold. This caused 
me much study ; but while walking from one end of the Boulevards 
to the other, I accomplished the making of them in my mind ; and 
saw that on the same plan, Valenciennes edgings could be pro- 
duced. Returning to Nottingham, I put on machines to make these 
edgings ; the plan becoming soon known to two or three others, they 
wished to become connected with me in working it under a patent ; 
one was taken out in 1850, No. 13,122, in the names of Dunnicliff 
and Bagley. At this time there began many difficulties among all 
the parties who were making these edgings and other things, as to 
their respective interests and rights under the patents for my inven- 
tions. No regular agreements were signed, nor licenses issued, nor 
accounts kept. One party protested against the claims of another. 
At one time I made money fast by my Valenciennes edgings, and 
began to manufacture Honiton sprigs ; but it required more capital 
than I could command. A partnership, from which there was just 
ground to expect large profit to myself, and to embark in which 
I had declined good offers elsewhere, was dissolved; and I had to 
leave the business without any capital coming to me at all. I had 
forgotten to mention that, having bought a round hosiery knitting- 
frame in Paris in 1851, I devised a method of making ribbed work 




MK. J. W. BAGLEY. 375 

from it, and shewed it to a house who patented the plan without my 
permission; upon putting in a caveat against it, a settlement by 
arbitration was effected. Another patent, No. 13,880, in 1851, was 
obtained for a method of making round knitting cord, found out by 
my son ; the interest in this specification we sold for 50. A large 
machine owner was using my Yalenciennes patent, but without 
paying me for it, although I had put on for him a machine with 
Mechlin spots without any reward. 'A man of straw like you,' he 
said, ' can do nothing by going to law with me,' and laughed at me. 

"This is a brief outline of my history (1856), and of the treat- 
ment I have received. Many are enjoying wealth from my labours. 
I am in difficulty to know how to pay my way." 

In this dilemma he was advised to place himself in 
the hands of a competent and independent party, who 
by knowledge of the value of his inventions and of 
business in general, might so direct his efforts as to 
secure adequate profits to himself from them. 

He had all along been the victim of his own restless 
versatility of invention ; together with inability to make 
a safe bargain on a fair estimate of the value of his 
inventions ; and an aversion to keep strict accounts 
himself or to require others to do so; in all which 
respects he shared the characteristics of the great ma- 
jority of his class. The demand for the superior kinds 
of goods, of which he had originated the manufacture, 
continued; the profits of the half-share of his last 
patent and which he received, increased; and it is 
pleasant to have to state, that from the time at which 
his narrative concludes, his position became more stable 
and his circumstances comfortable. He died in the 
year 1859, aged about fifty. His son, also a clever 
mechanician, after exhibiting their productions in the 
Exhibition of 1862, died of consumption. Their busi- 
ness is carried on at present by a son-in-law. 



( 376 ) 



CHAPTER XXV. 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 1837 TO 1866. 

AFFAIRS in the local trades in the midland district 
were very adversely affected by the commercial panic 
of 1837; that of lace suffered in an especial manner. 
Half the hosiery and more than half the lace machinery 
ceased being worked. Prices of materials fell one-half 
and sales of wrought goods were almost impossible. 
Some houses did not make an entry during a whole 
month. A relief fund in Nottingham maintained 4,400 
stocking and lace makers, representing 22,000 souls 
out of 50,000 inhabitants, for several months, and the 
poor rates rose from 11,628 in 1836, to 21,139 in 
1837, although the aid from private benevolence was 
unusually great. 1,155 houses were shut up out of 
11,000 in the borough. 

This depression continued for several following years, 
with short occasional fluctuations. In 1843, the prices 
of plain bobbin net were reduced to the lowest figure at 
which they have been ever sold, viz. 8-qr. 2|J., 2|^., 
2|d per rack for 10, 11, and 12 point, and 12-qr. 
4d., 4Jr7. and 5d. for the same qualities. Three-fifths 
only of the lace frames were at work for fifteen months. 
The following anecdote will strikingly exemplify the 
alternations to which this plain net business has been 
subjected. It was during the period of great prosperity, 
that upon the occurrence of a fire that consumed the 
machinery of Messrs. Wheatley and Co., the principal 
plain lace manufacturers at Chard in Somersetshire, 
that house determined to replace it by the construction 
of seventy-two new 12-qr. machines of the most im- 
proved description, under the superintendance of Mr. 
Eiste, an able mechanician, formerly a workman, then 
become a partner in the firm. So satisfactorily was this 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 377 

performed, that though the loss by the fire was estimated 
at 40,000, it proved a permanent advantage to the 
proprietors ; the new machinery working by steam, 
more than covered that large sum by the profits realized 
from its operations during the first year after it was 
got to work. On relating this fact in 1838, Mr. Riste 
stated, " that he had himself received for making a 
yard of net 1. 6s. , which at the time he spoke, would 
be paid for by the sum of one farthing" a reduction 
to one-fifteen hundredth part of the original cost of the 
labour necessary for its production. 

Between 1844-5, the market was so overloaded with 
platted laces, that though a beautiful and sound article, 
the prices fell to one-fourth of what they had been pre- 
viously sold for, and still were only sold with diffi- 
culty. The ' registration of designs act' had been lately 
passed, and much benefit had been expected to result 
from its operation. But a case was brought before the 
magistrates in Nottingham this year, for alleged piracy 
of a warp pattern, in which the complainant was unsuc- 
cessful, and it has since practically fallen into desuetude. 
There are often inseparable difficulties in the way of 
proving either originality or piracy of patterns. In 
1845, the lace trade was overdone in all departments. 
Fisher had only twenty -five machines of all kinds at 
work, and a number of licenses for his patent plats 
were given up. The prices for all fancy goods fell 
greatly. Levers' edgings and laces were sold at Id. 
and ^d. a yard some at the prices which the yarn 
cost of which they were made. There were numerous 
instances of small machine holders, to whom more than 
one cotton-yarn dealer had been accustomed to give 
eighteen to thirty-six months credit for materials to work 
up in the two or three machines they owned, who had 
thus been enabled to accumulate large quantities of 
fancy lace goods, often of inferior patterns. These were 
at length pushed into the market, and sold at a terrible 
sacrifice, which inevitably issued in transforming the 
owner at once into a twist hand again. Many of these 
machines were purchased for exportation, at exceedingly 
low rates. For instance, an 11-qr. 11| point Levers' 
Jacquarded with 160 bars, and which latter with altera- 



378 THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

tions, cost 350 putting in, sold for 26. Yet during 
these trying years, many fancy Levers' machines of 
from 16-qr. to 20-qr. in width, were built for the 
manufacture of Jacquard laces. In 1846, a public 
meeting was held of 2,000 lace hands, half of whom 
were partially employed, the other altogether out of 
work. They prayed the House of Commons to restrict 
the working time to sixteen hours, and two shifts a-day. 
This petition was also signed by 4-30 small machine 
owners ; 27 of the larger owners petitioned against it ; 
and the bill was negatived by about 130 to 50. All 
parties agreed, that the working hours of women and 
children should be restricted. This was succeeded by 
the formation of the existing bobbin net workman's 
union. It was agreed to pay 2d. to the local and 4cL 
to the national fund weekly ; to receive weekly, if the 
wages be 16s., 10s., and if 1, 12s. Qd. a-week from the 
union when sick or out of work. The depression con- 
tinued in the trade. A lot consisting of fifteen 8-qr., 
ten 10-qr., and one 12-qr., with 200 Ib. of fine yarn, was 
sold altogether for 230. 

The government school of design had been established 
some time, and was working very successfully. Appro- 
priate patterns were gradually multiplied, and the busi- 
ness of designing for the lace trade was introduced. 
Early in 1846, a deputation was sent by the body of 
lace manufacturers and merchants, to request govern- 
ment to make a representation to the Spanish autho- 
rities of the reciprocal benefit to each nation that would 
result from moderate duties being levied by the one 011 
English lace, and by the other on Spanish wines. The 
question was mooted at Madrid, but nothing came 
of it. 

The commercial panic that supervened almost univer- 
sally in 1848, produced severe losses in the Nottingham 
lace trade, as well as in the hosiery business of the 
midland districts. The American markets had been 
overstocked with goods, in realising upon which great 
sacrifices were made. No regular sales of either hosiery 
or lace were made in the home markets from October, 
1847, to April, 1818, and much distress was produced 
by hands being very partially employed. The demand 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 379 

for lace gradually revived in 1849, when some articles 
began to be made on the Nottingham lace machinery, 
which had been imported till 1845 of the lower kinds 
from Saxony, and the more expensive ones from France. 
These were black silk ornamented shawls, scarfs, and 
flounces. Mechlin straight down plain cotton nets began 
to be much used after a time; the same article made 
of silk was very largely consumed, and has more or less 
continued in demand until 1866. This net was first 
made three twist, then double, and at last single twist 
only. By 1851, the principal Nottingham articles in 
machines fancies were cotton edgings, insertions, linen 
laces imitating white pillow goods, muslin edgings, and 
laces, platted, spotted, and other nets, imitating Valen- 
ciennes. Lace curtains, bed coverlids, and blinds, toilets, 
and d'oyleys, finished on the frame of excellent designs 
for superior furniture use, and at excessively low prices 
for the million, were after a time supplied in immense 
quantities. Some of those who have written disparag- 
ingly upon the subject of taste in lace, as seen in some 
classes of English goods, seem not to have taken into 
account, that we have to provide goods to suit the fixed 
unchanging taste of the Hindoo, the West Indian, or the 
South American markets. However it may differ from 
our own or that of the French, it cannot be forced. 
The same leaf or stripe or geometrical figure may be 
required year by year, to the great advantage of the 
manufacturer. For a similar reason, the window screen 
of lace for the cottage of the poor must have some design, 
some figure to enliven it, however imperfect the outline, 
or low the price. 

After the Great Exhibition in 1851, there was a 
revival of demand for the three twist net of fine texture, 
suitable for the ground on which should be applied with 
the needle sprigs, braids, and flowers made at Brussels 
and Honiton on the pillow. Mr. Sewell had made this 
article for many years. Mr. William Gregory purchased 
the machinery of Mr. John Kendall, one of the former 
licensees, and, though not originally a mechanic, had 
by working at a lace machine become master of its con- 
struction and management, as proved by the excellence 
of these three twist fine nets, of which he has for some 



380 THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

years been a principal manufacturer, and thereby secured 
considerable pecuniary results. No doubt he gave strict 
attention to minute details in the management of his 
machinery and workpeople. What, however, he deemed 
of no small importance as aiding his progress, may be 
gathered from remarks made by him publicly after a 
dinner on his recent election into the municipal council : 

"Mr. Gregory said he never denied his birth. He was not 
ashamed of having been a collier. He had also been a farm labourer 
for ten years ; he thought if he had not been a good servant he should 
not have remained in the same place ten years. He always contrived 
to save money however, and when he left farming he returned to 
the colliery. He had even been a beer-house keeper, and his wife 
had worked in a stocking-frame. If she had not been an industrious 
and economic wife, he could not have succeeded as he had. He felt 
proud of his family, with whom he had been very happy ; and he was 
glad to say he had a son sitting beside him who would make a much 
cleverer man than himself. He had his wife and family to thank 
for his success. Having striven hard to attain his present position," 
he concluded by saying, " some might be there who, by following 
his example and taking care of their money, would possibly attain 
a much higher place than he had done." (The business is now 
conducted by the son above referred to). 

Amongst those who quitted the ranks of working men 
at lace machines, and who became employers of large 
bodies of workpeople, were the brothers Samuel and 
Jonathan Burton. They were originally frame-work- 
knitters and afterwards point net hands in Nottingham. 
We first saw them about 1828 employed in making 
bobbin net upon narrow frames in Broad Marsh. From 
thence they removed to the neighbourhood of Mount 
street. Afterwards, becoming connected with Mr. Sewell, 
they built and occupied large premises at Carrington, for 
the manufacture of plain net from circular machines of 
the best construction. The Messrs. Burtons accumulated 
capital rapidly ; and after a few years Mr. Samuel Burton 
established himself in a separate factory at Sherwood, 
where after a short interval he died, leaving considerable 
wealth to his family. Mr. Jonathan Burton remaining 
behind, increased his machinery to the number of about 
seventy 16-qr. to 20-qr. in width. Besides making 
this outlay in buildings and machinery, he purchased 
a valuable landed estate in the neighbourhood. He 
died suddenly a few years ago. The management of 



, 

' *. 









PLATE XVII. 



26 




THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 381 

his business was characterised by constant personal 
vigilance, and great decision upon emergencies ; com- 
bined with such confidence in the accuracy of his calcu- 
lations, and the soundness of his judgment of probable 
events, as led to the exercise of singular patience in 
waiting for results. The Messrs. Burton, Mr. Gregory, 
and other similar instances of successful management 
which might have been adduced, shew that the inven- 
tive talent of this district, though it greatly prepon- 
derated, has been accompanied frequently by a large 
measure of administrative ability, a fact probably not 
confined to our local artizans, and is of growing interest 
in connexion with the enquiry now occupying deservedly 
so large an amount of public attention as to the policy 
and practicability of conjoint interest of employers and 
employed in manufactures, and of the probable results of 
co-operation on the part of workmen amongst themselves. 
In 1844, Mr. Alfred Butler made fancy open net and 
cloth work on circular machines 

By Jacquards operating on levers which pushed the carriages 
behind where required, traversing to make cloth, not traversing to 
make open work. The carriages were divided in the traverse, and 
the two tiers were kept apart, it is said, by using small carriages 
without tops but with nebs under them, by which both sets were 
driven by a peculiar kind of locker blade. 

An invention appeared in 1846, produced upon cir- 
cular machinery, by Mr. John Livesey, a draughtsman, 
of Lenton, called from the looped formation of the 
meshes and the threads not traversing, 'straight down' 
net ; and it is upon this arrangement that curtain nets 
and curtains are principally made. The tissue is not 
solid or fast, and will not bear too much stress in wear ; 
nevertheless cloth work of single, double, and three-fold 
texture can be introduced at pleasure ; and intermixed 
with openworks, form elegant designs in the net work, 
by the application of Jacquard apparatus at the ends 
of the machine to one class of threads, and a separate 
one acting at the back upon another part of the threads, 
so as to produce the effects of light and shade in floral 
or geometric patterns. These are much admired for 
their beauty when hung up so as to intercept the 
light. 



382 THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

Livesey begun by using only one tier of carriages and bobbins. 
Where more warp threads were wanted in some parts for the pattern 
than in others, he supplied them from additional warp beams. 
Instead of the bobbin threads twisting with the separate warp 
threads, as in common bobbin net, one bobbin thread on this plan 
acts upon two warp threads, turn and turn about, which causes that 
the meshes united by one and the same bobbin thread, are produced 
in a vertical line. Hence its name. 

This plan was not at first thoroughly successful ; but 
by the consecutive assistance of Elsey, Sisling, and Cope, 
the proposed result was eventually more than realized. 

They introduced the action of the Jacquard upon a second warp, 
serving for weft, placed behind the machine, wound on large bobbins 
as on the traverse warp plan. There are large carriages holding 
large bobbins, supplying the ordinary warp bobbin threads. These, 
by the action of a peculiarly formed spring, were kept at proper 
tension, and when slackened coiled back again aright. The ordinary 
bobbins and carriages serve for joining together the straight down 
ranks of meshes. 

In 1851 there were 150, and in 1862, 300 of these 
machines at work in and near Nottingham. 

They have chiefly been in the hands of Walker and 
Elsey, Robinson and Sisling, Wheatley and Co., and 
Cope and Ward. Each of these houses have made suc- 
cessive modifications in them, which have increased the 
power and excellence of the production, and at length 
seem to have firmly established the demand for these 
articles. The speed of the machines is such that a pair 
of curtains, each four yards long, may be produced on 
one machine in two hours. In the Exhibition of 1851, 
some l store' curtains, each five yards long and two 
yards wide, consisting of one elaborate pattern only, 
were shewn, valued at 1. 10s. the pair. Each of 
these patterns required 12,000 to 15,000 cards to be 
used in the machine. The business in these goods is 
intermittent ; during the season some tons weight of 
cotton curtains leave Nottingham weekly. 

Of the latest improvements in curtain machines, one 
was patented by Messrs. Catford and Wheatley in 18C1, 
No. 2507, for making the article with a traversed mesh, 
and consequently possessing greater durability than that 
formed of loops only. The greater cost of this ground 
must so enhance price as to affect the sale, it may be 
feared. 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 383 

Another improvement was introduced by Messrs. 
Cope, Ward, and Cope, in 1860, No. 707, producing 

A new fabric in which the warp threads are united together, 
and pillars formed by looping them in substitution of bobbin threads. 
Needles are employed, each having an eye through which a looping 
thread passes. These needles are operated upon so as to take their 
threads between the warp threads, and to loop with them. The 
threads of these needles may be aided by hooks, and other instru- 
ments, in the movements given to the warp threads to effect the 
interlooping and tying together of the warp threads. Points and 
point bars, as well as bobbins and carriages with their combs, are dis- 
pensed with. Series of guides or interceptors, and traverse or extra 
threads, may be employed. 

Mr. Cope being a clever mechanician, and having 
acquired a practically accurate knowledge of the bobbin 
net machine, had effected a modification of it, which he 
patented, No. 238, in 1858. Again, in 1860, his firm 
took out a further patent, No. 2855, with a view to 
simplify its action and increase its speed 

By means of taking from a crank pin on a rotary shaft, a lever 
to give a rocking motion thereto, and to connect with it another 
rocking shaft, whereby parallel motion is obtained ; and thus there 
is imparted the required segmental motions and alternate rests to 
the back and front catch bars. Also, there is described an application 
of dividing instruments to act upon, and hold the warp threads 
between the guide bars or other selecting instruments for acting 
on these threads, and also on the under side of the carriages after 
each selection, and while they pass from back to front, or front 
to back, and thereby give time for a fresh selection of warp threads 
during their oscillation. 

A further patent, No. 2098, was taken out in 1864, 
by Mr. Cope, for an improvement in bobbins and 
carriages. 

John Livesey, the originator of the curtain net ma- 
chinery, was so well acquainted with the various classes 
into which the lace manufacture had become subdivided, 
that he was enabled to take instruments from each for 
the purpose of effecting new combinations, arid for these 
he obtained additional patents. 

In 1851, No. 13,750, was for a mode of making articles resembling 
velvet and Brussels carpet ground ; piled and cut, piled and embossed 
velvets, tapestry, or Berlin needle work ; and lace with velvet figures, 
and internal pearls, spots, and ornaments. Also, having two or more 
piles to each carriage thread, and with a back and front ground, 
from between which the pile thread is drawn. Also, a mixed ground 
partly looped and partly woven, on which Berlin work stitches are 



384 THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

formed. Also, embroidered grounds with raised piled surfaces ; and, 
finally, patterns in or on piled or cut piled, and in introducing 
more colours than were before practicable. 

The productions here enumerated were of most 
diversified character and great beauty. The ingenuity 
displayed in the bobbin net machinery thus modified 
was highly creditable to the mind which devised and 
executed it. 

The next year, 1852, S. Nicholls and E. Wroughton, 
mechanics, with J. Livesey, united in taking out a 
patent for several improvements in the circular hosiery 
knitting frame 

Into which they introduced warp and weft threads, and a break 
for stopping these machines. Also, for improved straight frames 
for plain and ribbed hosiery. Also, for an apparatus introducing 
weft threads in lace machinery, and making improved grounds 
thereby. Also, for improved instruments for making pile and other 
fabrics. And for making new fabrics, one part made at right 
angles to the other part ; also fabrics made edgewise, and tied 
together at intervals. And, finally, improvements in making fringes 
and piled fabrics. 

Some of the articles produced under this patent were 
ingeniously made and in good taste. 

Livesey patented in 1852, No. 1139, for lace piled 
fabrics. In 1854, No. 1571 and No. 1748, the former 
for improvements in making laces, the latter in fringes 
from lace machinery. In 1855, No. 32 was for printing 
lace, and No. 182 for machinery. In 1857, No. 2997 
was for further improvements in the machinery for 
making piled fabrics. His last patent was taken out in 
1861, No. 2043, for methods of making lace embroidered 
articles, trimmings, &c. 

This aptitude for and versatility of inventions evidence 
a great amount of mechanical power, but in Livesey it 
was more suggestive than practical; he indicated the 
way to important objects rather than pursued it so as to 
secure the beneficial results. Of these he obtained littlo 
beyond the needful supply of his daily wants. His 
mind seems to have been discursive, full of plans cer- 
tain, as he averred, to bring large gains, but he lacked 
the energy and determination to work them fully out. 
Thus the greater part of life having passed without 
Livesey realising any pecuniary harvest from his inven- 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 385 

tions, by a friendly contribution lie was assisted to 
emigrate to Australia, where he is still living", it is hoped 
in comfortable circumstances. 

Besides the modifications described more at large in 
connection with the names of other skilful inventors, 
the following were made during the epoch on which 
we have now entered, and are worthy of notice. 

In 1841, Joseph Wragg, of Lenton, smith, assisted 
by Bertie 

Used the cylinder and cards, but instead of holes they put on knobs 
of wood of different heights to act on guide bars, forcing them 
to greater distances than by compound levers, and thus got gimp 
threads round the flowered patterns, which had before been put 
in by the needle. 

This was a great discovery, operating however to 
displace the labour of many lace embroiderers, and to 
overturn some important arrangements of the trade. 
The goods being nearly finished for the market on the 
machines, much labour, time, and capital, previously 
employed in giving them out all over the midland 
counties to be run or tamboured, were saved ; but the 
hands were gradually thrown out of employment. This 
was not an unmitigated evil, for the labour was unhealthy, 
and of late years ill-paid for long hours and close appli- 
cation. Moreover, the demand for female labour has 
increased so rapidly in Nottingham, as to have absorbed 
a constant supply of such country hands within the last 
twenty-five years a process which is likely to increase 
rather than otherwise. 

An able mechanic, Whittle, of Nottingham, lessened 
the cost of operating by guide bars, by placing a distinct 
bolt for each, which was acted on by the cards. 

In 1842, Brooks put double cylinders on Levers' 
machines to propel the guide bars, moving them both 
ways. The plan became generally used. 

Clarke and Kerrey used, instead of cards, plates on 
which were knobs to be changed at will. W. Henson, 
Worcester, proposed to improve the bobbin net machine, 
by using a set of middle points as a guide bar. 

In 1842-3, C. Nickells took out three patents for 
introducing elastic thread or India-rubber strands into 
the productions of lace machinery. They were Nos. 

cc 



386 THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

9472, 9629, and 9735 respectively. No. 9290 was a 
patent taken out by William Catford, of Chard, for a 
double cylinder Jacquard. This was purchased by 
James Fisher. 

Charles and John Thornton constructed a machine 
in 1842-3, in which long levers were made to operate 
on other levers which were controlled by the Jacquard, 
and all were moved by power. 

In 1843, Polak, of Brussels, caused the Jacquard to 
act on wires, through which warp threads passed, and 
when drawn by the Jacquard, enabled the carriages re- 
quired to pass on the other side of the warp threads, 
only two guide bars being used. 

This year, Tansley and Marsh made imitation plat 
laces, using three warp to one bobbin thread. The 
platting was done by the three warps, the bobbins 
merely passing to and fro to hold them together, and 
prevent their unravelling. 

In 1844, a patent, No. 10,163, was taken out by 
William Clarke, for making traverse ground ornamented 
lace, forming scollops on breadths by accumulating a 
series of warp and bobbin threads. It was understood 
not to have been a successful, though a very expensive 
effort, costing it is said 3000. 

The same year he obtained another patent, No. 10,350, for 
scolloping on a Levers' frame, causing warp threads to gradually 
accumulate to form the scollop, and leaving the points, by extra 
points to take up the twist, and making a sewing thread connect 
the net and the scollop. Several other methods were used to make 
this scollop, for one of which, said to be superior to the patent one, 
100 was given to the inventor. 

In 1844, John Fisher, with Gibbons and Roe, as 
machinists, took out a patent, No. 10,424, for manu- 
facturing ornamented lace. In 1845, they obtained 
another for four distinct purposes, No. 10,716. 

1st. For making lace with scolloped edges by the use of move- 
able combs or bolts, so as to cause the carriages that make the edge, 
and the carriages that make the body of the breadth to which 
the edge is applied, for a time to work away from or differently 
spaced from, those of the body of the breadth of lace. These are 
single-tier Levers' carriages. 2nd. To govern the make of bars 
and gaiting them, so as to secure their perfectly geometric exacti- 
tude in movement, reckoning the spaces by (say) eighths of gaits or 
spaces within the compass of the apparatus. 3rd. Apparatus for 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 387 

making warp fabrics by using two hook bars, and dispensing with 
the presser bar to simplify the machine. The machinery arranged 
according to this improvement, we prefer should have the warp 
beam placed above, and the guides for lapping the threads in a 
vertical position ; the sinkers in a horizontal position, and stems of 
the hooks which perform the parts of the stems in the needles 
ordinarily used, in a vertical instead of horizontal position. 4th. 
An improvement on the patent, No. 10,424, by which instead of 
one bar, any number of bars may be placed in a frame and used for 
each description of instruments employed in producing the patterns, 
so that several rows of pattern may be produced at the same time. 
This patent has fourteen sheets of drawing appended to it. 

No. 11,644 was for improvements in the fabrication of lace or 
weavings. 

In 1857, Mr. John Fisher took out No. 2279, for 
making spots and finings simultaneously. 

About this time, Mr. Waterhouse, of Chesterfield, had 
constructed a fourteen-point machine, the carriages in 
which were moved by rolling lockers. The intention 
was to imitate the real Brussels ground, which is formed 
by two warp and two bobbin threads composing the 
upright pillar, and a warp and a bobbin thread being 
twisted to form each of four sides of the mesh. 

This machine could only traverse over two meshes, 
and, in consequence, the lace had a shady appearance. 
The open and cloth works were good imitations of 
the foreign lace, but though from so fine a guage, the 
ground looked rather coarse. Nevertheless, Her Majesty 
Queen Victoria, as well as the Dowager Queen Adelaide 
patronised its use, and it was commended in the Times. 

Mechanics had not succeeded in traversing plat nets, 
made from fast warps, and it was suggested that the 
shaded appearance of this lace might have been pre- 
vented by lapping each thread alternately at the turn 
again of the mesh. The cost of this machine was 
understood to be upwards of 3000 ; and the price at 
which its produce could be sold, would not justify its 
continuance in work. It was bought for 300, and has 
been reconstructed for an ordinary purpose. Mr. William 
Clark introduced a method of using iron plates instead 
of cards, having pins on the surface as well as holes. 
In 1866, this inventor took out a patent, No. 3108, for 
improvements in ornamental laces and other fabrics. 

In 1844, Mr. Gravener Henson gave a plan and 
drawings to Crofts and Cox, of Lenton 

r c 2 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

For putting one bobbin of the usual size at the bottom of a 
steeple-top carriage, and another of smaller size at the top of the 
same. The bobbins above the bars being of the same size as the 
bottom bobbins, a fixed thread passed round both bobbins to which 
the bobbin thread was attached, and was wound round both bobbins 
which were placed more than two inches above the others, holding 
double the quantity of thread, and the bobbins pulled nearly alike 
so that no yarn was wasted. Henson learned that this method 
had been applied with success by Ferguson, at Lisle. 

Joseph Topham, in 1845, used a double Jacquard. 
A Manchester string Jacquard makes the net. The 
figuring is made by using stumps to every warp thread 
placed behind the machine, and operated on by a 
Jacquard the whole width of the machine. 

Townsend and Revill placed at the side of a bobbin 
net machine, a large perpendicular wheel, - having 
wooden knobs on its surface, from which levers were 
actuated, which moved guide bars. This was at that 
time a cheap method of making small patterns. 

John Oldknow, of Lenton, made Lever machines 
this year, 24-qr. or 216 inches in width. It was in- 
tended to make muslin laces extensively from them, 
but as the bobbin threads did not traverse, the article 
fell into disuse. 

Slater now applied sixty sheet-brass guide bars per- 
forated for warp threads, and enabled Levers' machines 
to use them. 120 were put in, in 1844, and 200 such 
were afterwards used in one machine with wonderful 
results, until the introduction of Oldknow's perforated 
steel bars, which may be said to have indirectly revo- 
lutionized the Levers' fancy trade. 

In 1846, Mr. Vickers, sen. and Mr. William Clarke, 
took out a patent, No. 11,042, for the manufacture of 
machine wrought velvet lace one of the earliest efforts 
made to accomplish this. 

Mr. William Vickers, jun., of Nottingham, assisted 
by Mr. Gamble, also a clever mechanician, constructed 
about the year 1850, a machine 

Having a central comb bar to receive a full set of carriages 
and bobbins; also, a front and a back comb bar to receive the 
carriages as they were selected and required for the purpose of 
forming the pattern. There were warp threads which traversed, 
but not a warp beam; and the bobbin threads performed only the 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 389 

operation of twisting. This required but six motions, and those 
through half the usual distance only to form the mesh ; so that it 
\vus an exceedingly quick machine, and it produced excellent net. 

There was, however, a delicacy in its mode of opera- 
tion, which though it might perhaps have been overcome, 
yet having already expended 1500 in its construction, 
and other more pressing things intervening, further 
proceedings were given up. This was one amongst 
several highly ingenious attempts to perform by me- 
chanism, actuated by rotary motion and inanimate power, 
all the various processes used in the fabrication of 
pillow lace. These have been necessarily very costly 
in time and money ; in this instance combining, after 
much simplification of their essential principles of action, 
those parts which are specially characteristic of the 
Levers', pusher, traverse warp, and double-tier machines. 

About 1848, Mr. Peter Coxon, of Lenton, made 
embossed muslin laces from the Levers' machine. The 
article was too expensive, and did not sell in conse- 
quence. His method was to throw the wheels and 
tackle out of gear, and thus letting the warp accumulate 
where necessary for producing embossment. Mr. 
Wilkinson made braid from the Levers' frame by extra 
guide bars and constantly interlapping ; the exact 
method was not known to the trade. Similar goods 
were made by other modes. Messrs. Ingoldby and 
Clark had brought out, in 1845, an ingenious but slow 
scolloping machine, for working which however licenses 
were bought freely for a time. It never became a really 
popular plan of making this kind of laces. 

Mr. Barton, of New Basford, a worthy man and 
excellent mechanician, after years of intense study, de- 
vised and put together a compound machine of a very 
peculiar system, of which we are unfortunately in a 
position to give but a very slender account. The yarn of 
which it was made, was all put on bobbins, there being 
no warp. It had five comb bars and four sets of points, 
and required, we are informed, 240 motions to complete 
one series of meshes. But the result was as perfect 
an article as can be produced upon the pillow. In the 
report of M. Aubry on this department in the Exhibition 
of 1851, he affirms this to be "the most beautiful 



390 THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

imitation of pillow lace shewn there." It is very 
melancholy to have to record, that the strain upon his 
intellect and nerves cost Mr. Barton his life. He died 
by his own hand in December, 1845. The machine no 
longer exists, but a specimen of the work is given in 
Plate XVIII., No. 29, an undivided Valenciennes lace 
braid or edging. 

Shetland woollen work begun to be made on the 
stocking-frame by Mr. Thomas Hill, of Nottingham, in 
the year 1854. He had made experiments with fine 
grey woollen yarn, with a view to produce falls similar 
to those knitted by hand in Shetland. No yarn of a 
suitable kind was obtainable for a time. Ultimately 
Walker and Co., of Bradford, were successful in pro- 
ducing it ; and in the summer of that year the falls 
were introduced into London and Manchester with great 
favour, and have ever since continued in regular demand, 
both at home and abroad. 

In the year 1862, T. Hill suggested to an intelligent 
workman at Hucknall, W. Farrands, that shawls might 
be made of these fine woollen yarns, by the introduc- 
tion of the newly brought out bright colours, skilfully 
combined with the patterns in the borders. Samples 
in various styles found immediate sale in France. The 
manufacture has steadily increased, and now comprises 
other articles of utility and beauty for ladies' dress, 
and, if well made, are used in Spain, South America, 
and the United States. 

These goods are made on stocking-looms, having a 
jack machine, in which is a set of points to remove the 
loops from the needles, placed in front of them. The 
spider-work formerly made on these jack frames had 
gone out of demand. Now about 100 of the wide ones 
are at work on these new fabrics. The yarns are 
become an important article in Bradford spinning, 
and fetch 4s. to 12s. per pound, according to quality, 
passing through the hands of several agents in Not- 
tingham. 

A far greater development would have been attained, 
had not the first productions been immediately copied 
of a depreciated quality, so as to be lowered in price. 

The first order for shawls was for 1300, and were 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 391 

intended for the London and Paris markets. While 
in course of preparation a sight of them was obtained, 
and they were met, when delivered, by an article offered 
at two-thirds the price. The Paris buyers seeing the 
inferiority of the latter, declined to risk the effort to make 
them fashionable a result, which if attained, would have 
given them greater currency still in other countries. 

This is a striking instance of the resuscitation of 
a body of old and, as was supposed, effete machinery for 
a valuable purpose, though in a somewhat different 
direction ; and still more important, as shewing the 
folly of putting in jeopardy the demand for goods by 
infringing upon their quality. 

In 1861, Edward Topham, formerly of Nottingham, 
now of Calais, took out two patents, Nos. 1778 and 
2728, for certain appliances by which longitudinal meshes 
may be fabricated of lace, which meshes so formed may 
deviate from the usual course, inclining to or from, or 
be at right angles with the selvage of the tissue ; and 
by which a fringe, or the appearance of one, may be 
imparted to these longitudinal holes, obtaining by 
machinery what had and could hitherto only be pro- 
duced by hand. 

This was effected by what were called 'fugitive' and 'drag' 
threads, because they were, while in operation on the machine, used 
as means of dragging or pulling the threads passed round them 
out of their usual course, and thereby altering and angularly dis- 
torting the meshes, thus producing a closer resemblance to pillow 
made lace; and also they had the name of 'fugitive,' being drawn 
out from the fabric to which they were superfluous, when the piece 
was made and in course of division into breadths of lace preparatory 
to sale. 

There is no doubt a more complete resemblance to 
real lace obtained by this method, than by what was 
formerly adopted, viz. putting on additional or lessened 
weight or tightness in the action of such warp threads, 
or such bobbin threads as might be required to drag, or 
to be themselves drawn aside, more or less, in the work. 
By consequence, Topham' s plan and goods, the latter 
in black and white silk laces, good in style and rich in 
finish, were in request. In 1862, he brought an action 
against James Hartshorn for infringement, when it was 
proved that the defendant had not been able to make 



392 THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

the lace until he had obtained a pattern of it, on which 
the drag threads remained as it came off the machine. 
The jury decided the plan to be new ; that the defendant 
had infringed it, and that the specification was sufficient. 
The right to the use of this patent, having passed into 
other hands in 1866, the Master of the Rolls and a jury 
tried a cause for its infringement Barnett v. Maxton, 
in which a verdict was entered for the plaintiff, whereby 
the sale of goods, wherever made according to the 
plan, except by license, is declared illegal. The defen- 
dant agreed to take licenses from the plaintiff. 

In 1863, this house obtained No. 773, for further 
improvements in ornamenting lace. 

Mr. Frederic Rainford Ensor, of Nottingham, has 
devised many methods whereby laces may be made 
more approximate in various particulars to Valenciennes 
produced on the pillow. He has taken out patents for 
some of those, though not all. One of these patents was 
No. 2344, in 1854 ; another in 1855, No. 2142 ; another, 
in conjunction with Mr. Jacoby, in 1858, No. 2216; 
another in 1865, No. 971. The last he describes as 

"Producing from a single complement of threads all the pillars 
of the ground of three threads; also perfect cloth work, the tabby 
weaving being clear ; the carriages swing in the same grooves ; that is, 
one thread up and one thread down, alternately. It is a perfect, 
simple, and economic mode of producing by machinery Valenciennes 
lace." 

The plan thus patented appears to be one of very 
great value. In an advertisement upon the subject of 
this invention, " Mr. Ensor reminds Mr. John S. Butler, 
Messrs. Dunnicliff and Smith, and Messrs. Jacoby and 
Co., that much lace is making under it." On enquiry 
into the meaning of this, we were informed that there 
may be a question raised ere long, whether a patent 
No. 113, taken out in 1863, by Mr. J. S. Butler, may 
not be in some points infringed upon by Mr. Ensor. 
Mr. Butler states his invention to be 

For the manufacture of Valenciennes laces by the arrangement 
and combination of carriage threads and warp threads, or of these 
with gimp threads, so as to produce net of any guage less than 
the actual guage of the machines on which it is produced. 

The rights under this patent were vested in Messrs. 
Dunnicliff and Smith, and Mr. Jacoby. 



THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 393 

Mr. Jacoby had already taken out a patent in 1859, 
No. 2772, for an improvement in this class of laces. 
In 1860, No. 1406, another in connection with Redgate 
and Stones, and No. 2016 and No. 2348, all three for 
variations in methods and results in making the same 
valuable class of articles. One at least of them has four 
threads to the pillow. Besides the patentees, Dunnicliff 
and Smith only are ' partially' licensed to make goods 
under them. The reader will readily excuse the absence 
of a more specific account being attempted of these very 
abstruse modifications and results, which would indeed 
require plates of machinery and patterns to make 
them even partially intelligible. The like must be 
said of patents obtained by another house, Messrs. 
Hartshorn and Redgate, for modifications of Levers' 
fancy machinery. These were in 1862, No. 1907 
and No. 2472; in 1863, No. 2236; in 1864, No. 
2066. Again, in 1864, No. 2676, in connection with 
Gadsby ; and in 1865, No. 566, with Redgate, for 
making Maltese lace. The two last are advertised as 
the property of Mr. James Hartshorn and Mr. Jacoby.' In 
the plan for making Maltese lace there is a peculiar 
mode of weighting the two warp and two bobbin threads 
respectively, producing, if wished, pearls either on one 
or both sides of the weaving edges. A machine for 
making velvet spots was patented by Mr. J. Foster in 
1855, No. 328. Also, in 1855, Messrs. Ball and Wilkins 
obtained a patent, No. 1618, for improved warp fabrics, 
and in 1862, No. 613, for further modifications. 

Messrs. Hemsley patented, No. 2035, in 1855, for 
manufacturing chenille. In 1862, Mr. P. R. Couchoid 
took out No. 906 for chenille lace. The same year 
M. A. Fontaine Collette for u a new kind of lace," No. 
3424; and M. 1'Amadee for an imitation guipure for 
veils, &c. A curiously constructed series of apparatus 
was patented in 1865, by John Wilkie, No. 801, effect- 
ing 

1st. Pearling edges from the warp, and from the warp and 
bobbin threads in nets. 2nd. Forming spots simultaneously with, 
but separately from the body of the fabric. 3rd. Producing fabrics 
in imitation of sewed brocade and fringed fabrics. 



394 THE BOBBIN NET MANUFACTURE. 

Mr. Henry Mallett took a patent, No. 1512, in 1866, 
for Valenciennes lace : 

On this plan the pearled loops are closed at the stem of each, and 
are there intersected by a single thread, while the loops forming the 
pearls are each beyond the stem produced by a single thread, or two 
threads slightly twisted and worked as a single thread. The ground 
is produced by the employment of two warp threads to each bobbin 
thread, and where weavings are to be produced, the pairs of warp 
threads are wound on separate beams, so that the two warp threads 
of a carriage or bobbin thread may be worked up unequally ; 
and then in place of the pairs of warp threads passing through 
the weaving side by side and as one warp thread, and also in place 
of employing extra warp threads as weft threads, one of each of 
such pairs of warp thread is used as weft threads or as a boundary 
thread to the weavings, and thus the corded effect heretofore resulting 
from the use of pairs of threads, as single threads in the weaving is 
avoided ; and the cutting off of threads, as when extra wefting threads 
are used, is unnecessary. The weavings thus produced are like 
what have been produced when using one warp to each bobbin thread, 
and they are formed on a ground of net of two warps to a bobbin. 

Provisional protection was granted in September, 
1866, to Mr. William Selby, draughtsman, Nottingham 

For a method of making ornamental meshes or weavings in any 
part of bobbin net twist lace, by throwing out of work any of the 
regular warp threads and throwing in extra warp threads, by which 
the fabric is continued until the desired weaving or meshes be com- 
pleted, the regular warp threads being carried over until again 
required to produce the fabric in the ordinary way. Messrs. James 
Hardy and Co. are alone authorised to make or sell the lace made 
under this patent. 

Within the last fifteen years the attention of me- 
chanicians, chiefly in France, has been turned afresh to 
the construction of machines for the fabrication of fish- 
ing nets. 

The want of space forbids our giving more than the names of the 
inventors with the dates and numbers of the several patents which 
they took out, for facility of reference. In 1852, No. 841, Pierre 
Arnaud Coinpte Fontaine Moreau. In 1853, Nos. 145 and 2758, 
G. E. Gazanaine. In 1856, No. 2510, A. Bonnet. In 1858, No. 1234, 
F. J. Candy. In 1859, Nos. 1856 and 1872, J. and W. Stewart. 
And in 1860, No.1546, Hervieux brothers; No 1843, L. Rome; No. 
1174, B. Arnold; No. 2879, J. B. Payne. In 1861, No. 2340, 
Baudouin. In 1862, No. 2018, W. Clarke. 

It is very probable, that amongst these machines 
there may be found, on careful examination, many ex- 
amples of novel and ingenious plans and of clever con- 
structions applicable it may be in other useful forms. 



T